Ukrainian troops started to use Ukrainian-made long-range counterparts of a Russian Lantset kamikaze drone on the battlefield, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov said during the Forbes Ukraine Business Breakfast.
Lantset is one of the biggest threats to the Ukrainian military on the battlefield. Russian forces effectively use it for both reconnaissance and strike missions within a range of 40 kilometers.
According to Mykhailo Fedorov, several companies in Ukraine currently can organize mass production of such drones for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In the coming weeks, the Ukrainian government plans to sign contracts with these manufacturers, Mykhailo Fedorov announced.
Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation did not specify the range of Ukrainian-made drones, similar to Russian-made Lantsets, but noted that unmanned aerial vehicles of this class “are quite high-tech.”
The Russian army has been actively using Lantset drones in the war against Ukraine. The Lantset has a maximum range of 40 kilometers and a top speed of 300 kilometers per hour. This drone can carry high-explosive or fragmentation warheads and has optoelectronic and television guidance systems. It can be launched from a catapult launcher from land or sea platforms.
The Russian army employs Lantsets to engage various targets, such as air defense systems, tanks, and artillery systems. According to Aleksander Zakharov, chief designer of ZALA Aero Group, the Lantset can also be used for so-called air mining when it dives at high speed and intercepts enemy drones in mid-flight.
The Lantset costs about 35,000 USD and uses some components from American companies such as NVIDIA and Xilinx4. This drone was developed by ZALA Aero Group, a subsidiary of the Kalashnikov Concern (one of the leading arms manufacturers in Russia). It was first presented in 2019 at the ARMY-2019 military exhibition in Moscow.
Before the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Lantset was positioned not as a loitering munition (also known as a kamikaze drone) designed to eliminate ground targets but as an anti-aircraft drone against the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 armed drone, which the Ukrainian Armed Forces actively used during the first months of the invasion in 2022, according to the Ukrainian OSINT group Defense Express.
Ukraine launched the development of similar drones even before Russia’s full-scale invasion. In 2017, the Ukrainian-Polish Sokil (Hawk) reconnaissance and strike drone was presented, a localized Warmate drone from WB Electronics. It was planned to assemble these drones in Ukraine.
However, the Ukrainian customer was not interested in this project despite the proposals and a signed memorandum of cooperation between the Polish company and the Ukrainian state-owned arms manufacturer Ukroboronprom. Mass production of these drones in Ukraine has not begun.
Thus, Ukraine faced a full-scale invasion in 2022 without Ukrainian-made loitering munitions in service. Now, the situation has changed dramatically. After the Russian army began to use Lantsets during the all-out war against Ukraine actively, Ukraine started to look for ways to create a Ukrainian analog of this highly effective drone.
Drones have already significantly impacted the course of the war and proved highly effective in many aspects. Ukraine is investing heavily in producing a wide range of domestic drones and actively developing this sector of its military-industrial complex.
Although loitering munitions are complex hi-tech weapons with the ability to operate within a range of tens of kilometers, the need for a high-quality guidance system, resistance to electronic warfare, and a powerful warhead, the main challenge and priority is to secure an order and organize mass production, according to Defense Express. The high demand for loitering munitions in Ukraine stimulates the rapid development of new models and competition between manufacturers, which improves product quality.