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UK intel: Russian firm aims to equip naval suicide drone with 600 kg munitions

UK Defense Ministry reports Russian pursuit of one-way attack uncrewed surface vehicles (OWA USVs) to rival Ukraine’s capabilities.
Ukrainian experimental explosive uncrewed surface vessel Sea Baby. Screenshot from a Reporting From Ukraine video.
UK intel: Russian firm aims to equip naval suicide drone with 600 kg munitions

Russia pushes to bridge the gap with Ukraine in developing one-way attack uncrewed surface vehicles (OWA USVs), which have become crucial in the maritime domain since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the UK Defense Ministry reveals in its 1 December 2023 intelligence update.

The ministry tweeted:

  • The Russian defence industry is moving to close the capability gap with Ukraine in the development of one-way attack uncrewed surface vehicles (OWA USVs). On 27 November 2023, Mikhail Danilenko, head of Russian firm KMZ, announced their USVs would be trialled in the ‘special military operation’ with a view to establishing series production in 2024.
  • KMZ has previously manufactured a range of USVs, but in recent months they have started promoting their OWA capability; Danilenko said the boat could carry a munition of up to 600 kg.
  • Navies have employed USVs since the Second World War. However, with modern types resembling speedboats packed with explosives, in the hands of Ukrainian forces they have emerged as a key capability in maritime domain since Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Regular Ukrainian surface suicide drone attacks damaged several Russian Navy vessels. Earlier, Russia acquired at least one of the early Ukrainian USVs that had experienced malfunctions and subsequently washed ashore.

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