Russian, Ukrainian and Western observers instructed that Moscow might have debuted its new “Italmas” kamikazed drone in Ukraine this week. Though attainable, there’s little stable proof. Quite, the out there info signifies that the drone in query was possible a rudimentary unmanned aerial car (UAV) akin to fashions Russia has beforehand used to distract or reconnoiter Ukrainian air defenses.
On October 22 and 23, the Ukrainian Air Power Command reported assaults by a number of UAVs of an “unknown sort” together with Iranian Shahed-136/131 one-way assault drones and Kh-59 air-launched cruise missiles. After the primary assault, Colonel Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesman for Ukraine’s air pressure, mentioned the unidentified UAVs used engines purchased on AliExpress and carried a number of kilograms of explosives. He famous that this was not the primary time Russia has used UAVs constructed “from sticks,” that means low-cost, rudimentary supplies.
The identical day, movies appeared on Telegram through which a drone that sounds completely different from Shahed will be heard, adopted by a loud explosion. Ukrainians typically seek advice from Shaheds as “bangers” due to the sound their engines make. In contrast, Ukrainian media shortly dubbed the brand new UAVs “garden mowers.”
Along with the movies, a Ukrainian Telegram channel shared photographs of an engine apparently coming from one of many unidentified drones. Because the channel identified, the engine is much like a DLE-60, a gas-powered mannequin plane engine out there on-line for round $500.
A principle put ahead by Russian bloggers instructed that the mysterious drone could possibly be a modified model of Shahed. In latest months, Russia with Iran’s assist began to collect Shahed-136s itself in an try to increase its vary. The Russians have begun to part out some Iranian-supplied elements in favor of Russian ones. Particularly, Moscow and Tehran are reportedly collaborating to develop a brand new engine to switch the Shahed-136’s MD-550 engine, rising the drone’s vary and pace.
Based mostly on the pictures, the Shahed principle is unnecessary. The DLE-60 is considerably much less highly effective than the MD-550. And for the reason that DLE-60 already exists, Russia and Iran would naturally don’t have any have to develop it. Moreover, Russia’s Shahed manufacturing plan reportedly doesn’t envision changing the MD-550 till February 2024 on the earliest.
As a substitute of Shahed, some Russian bloggers claimed the unidentified drone was Italmas, a propeller-driven one-way assault UAV. The Russian firm Aeroscan first revealed Italmas, or “Izdeliye 54,” at Moscow’s Military-2023 protection exhibition again in August.
Aeroscan is a holding firm that majority owns ZALA Aero Group, which manufactures Russia’s “Lancet” hovering munitions. The Lancet collection consists of the Izdeliye 51 and Izdeliye 52 variations, which Russian forces have used extensively in Ukraine. ZALA additionally lately revealed Izdeliye 53, which is claimed to have a “swarm” functionality however has not but entered service.
The Italmas is marketed as being extra highly effective than the Lancet, whose 3-5 kg warhead typically fails to wreck its targets irreversibly. The brand new drone additionally has a for much longer vary, claimed to be over 200 kilometers, and reportedly incorporates synthetic intelligence. Based on Aeroscan, Italma’s testing started final winter.
Some Russian observers have instructed that Italmas could possibly be fitted with an electro-optical sensor, which might enhance manufacturing prices however allow the drone to hit dynamic targets. Nonetheless, such a sensor isn’t seen in out there photographs. If it depends solely on inertial or satellite tv for pc steering, the Italmas would primarily be a smaller, shorter-range model of the Shahed, used to have interaction static targets at pre-programmed coordinates.
Whereas the Lancet has an electrical motor, the Italmas, just like the Shahed, is powered by an inner combustion engine and its wings comprise gasoline tanks. A September segment on Russian state tv, Italmas with an engine much like – however not an identical to – the DLE-60, the mannequin seen within the photographs on 22 October, confirmed.
This truth, mixed with the distinct engine sound heard within the movies, led Russian bloggers and media to take a position that the unidentified drone was Italmas. Western and Ukrainian analysts and media then bolstered this hypothesis.
However Russia has used comparable engines in different UAVs, particularly plywood drones, apparently aimed toward distracting Ukrainian air defenses or figuring out their positions. Not less than a few of these drones carry nook reflectors which are used to replicate radio waves, making the UAV extra seen to air protection radars. Russia has beforehand used E95M aerial target drones in addition to balloons for comparable functions.
These plywood UAVs are primitive in design, constructed from low-cost, commercially out there supplies and carry small payloads. These drones higher match Inhat’s characterization of the unidentified UAVs as being made “of sticks.”
As well as, at the very least one of many beforehand seen plywood drones was carrying an “explosive substance,” in keeping with Ukraine’s Nationwide Guard. It sounds just like the small explosive payload on the UAVs described by Ihnat. Conversely, the payload he described appears too small for Italmas.
As Ihnat famous yesterday, Ukrainian specialists will analyze the stays of the mysterious UAV. Till then, clear conclusions should wait. Nevertheless it appears possible that Italmas has but to see motion in Ukraine.
Are you a devoted reader of FDD’s Lengthy Conflict Journal? Has our analysis benefited you or your workforce through the years? Assist our impartial reporting and evaluation in the present day by contemplating a one-time or month-to-month donation. Thanks for studying alongside! You can also make a tax-deductible donation right here.