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Russian Lancet loitering munitions tested in Syria.

| 2021

Lancet and KYB loitering munitions of Zala Aero company were engaged in strikes at terrorist targets in Syria, Rossiya 1 TV channel reported. It showed Lancet with a 3-kg warhead taking off from a catapult. The sorties took place in Idleb province and targeted terrorists of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, which is outlawed in Russia. The loitering munition was accompanied by a drone, which detected a pickup with terrorist warlords. The target was destroyed by the warhead. Other footage showed Lancet destroying a machinegun point of terrorists. However, Rossiya 1 report about KYB engagement during the attack in Idleb in October 2015 is dubious, as the loitering munition was presented only in 2019.
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Zala Aero "Lancet" unveiled at Army 2019 defense exhibition near Moscow (Picture source: Army Recognition)

Russian commandos have been using loitering munitions in Syria for several years. KYB and Lancet are effective weapons and successfully operated in combat conditions. Zala Aero chief designer Alexander Zakharov said Lancet can be launched from the ground and a moving sea platform: “Lancet can be launched at full pelt and you can see how it works,” he commented the launch from a boat. There were several sea launches and all the munitions operated with 100 percent effectiveness. The likely carrier was a Raptor-class patrol boat of project 03160.

Zakharov said Russia had designed the first in the world system of “air mining” to destroy drones by loitering munitions. Lancet is its backbone. “It can fly to the sky and mine the air for several hours,” he said.

Hostile combat drones reach a speed of 150 km/h and Lancet can catch up and destroy them: “It can dive at 300 km/h and easily do that,” Zakharov said.

The system is being tested against air balloons. The designer said Lancet has two modifications: Lancet-1 and Lancet-3. The former is equipped with several types of guidance: coordinate, optical-electronic, and combined. Besides, there is a television channel to transmit the target image and confirm a successful hit. The fuze is pre-contact. The destruction radius is 40 km. The maximum takeoff weight is 5 kg and the payload is 1 kg. Lancet-3 has similar guidance systems, television channel, and fuze. It destroys targets in a radius of 40 km. The maximum takeoff weight is 12 kg and the payload is 3 kg.

KYB was presented at IDEX 2019 in Abu Dhabi. It destroys distant ground targets. It delivers the payload to target coordinates, which are preset manually or by the image. The payload weighs 3 kg. KYB has successfully passed trials.

Still, Zakharov’s claim that Russia is on a par with Israel in loitering munitions looks excessively optimistic. KYB and Lancet were presented in 2019, while Harop of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) was created in the first half of the 2000s and successfully operates in several countries. Orbiter-1K loitering munition was presented much earlier than Russian ones. Both of them were engaged in the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh in the autumn of 2020.

Long before the Russian loitering munitions appeared, the Israeli Uvision company created a family of Hero munitions. The design of Hero-120 resembles that of Lancet. Therefore, claims that Russia is on a par with Israel and that Israeli designers borrow Russian technical solutions of loitering munitions and drones are extremely disputable.

The successful engagement of Israeli drones in Nagorno-Karabakh made Russian designers accelerate the creation of similar weapons, which may come to the Russian armed forces in the near future. However, Russia still lags behind the leading designers of loitering munitions.

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