Russia Unveils ‘Product 53’, A Next-Gen Kamikaze UAV That Expert Says Can Wipe-Off Entire Military Column

After the ‘super success’ of the Lancet-class kamikaze drones in Ukraine, the manufacturer Zala Aero has reportedly developed a new generation of kamikaze drones known as ‘Product 53.’

In the recent Vesti Nedeli program broadcast on the  Rossiya 1 TV channel, the public got a sneak peek of the ‘Product 53’ drone, which is believed to be an upgraded and next-generation version of the Lancet drone. The program video was posted to social media shortly after and has gone viral.

The video footage shows a 360-degree view of the upcoming ‘Product 53.’ Then the frame changes and a special correspondent Alexander Rogatkin is seen standing next to what appears to be a canister holding four of these drones, with only the head of one of the drones visible in the video.

Speaking in Russian, Rogatkin says, “It is a real sensation and absolutely exclusive, and a next-generation drone.” He tells the camera that the drone has not been shown entirely to the public for security reasons and has been designed for a group strike, popularly known as a swarm attack.

As could be seen in the video, the crew explains that for the swarm attack, the manufacturer has done away with the catapult, which is typically used to launch kamikaze drones, and has instead developed a special launcher for launching multiple drones, which is also one of the most significant features of Product 53.

The correspondent asks, “Can you imagine 20-30 of these installations?” He almost excitedly emphasizes that launching them together means this is a whole swarm attack that the enemy could not defend against or hide from.

The frame then shifts to give a close-up of the launcher with background commentary stating, “There is an individual launch container, which at the same time is also a transportation container. When launched, the drones fly out of the container into the center, spread their wings, and head to the target.” He asserts that these containers can be easily used to build a combination for salvo fire.

The program then proceeds to Alexander Zakharov, chief designer of Zala Aero Group, explaining, “The main thing is the ease of use and complete independence from any means of counteraction. It will be almost impossible to fight it.”

Zakharov further tells the camera that the new generation of Lancets will act on the command of the operator, who will determine the area of ​​operation, but at the same time, the drone will choose the target by itself with full autonomy. “We conducted a series of combat experiments. It is at the level of fully automatic application, without human intervention,” says Zakharov.

According to the manufacturer, a person gives a command and simply determines the area and specifies the armor. This means the drone will not target people. It specifically looks for armor or cannon artillery. The drone is said to be smart enough to know that air defense systems and radars are prominent targets and would pick a bigger target if presented with a conundrum. [sic]

And therefore, if it sees a tank and a radar simultaneously, there will be a radar that will be hit. “And it’s all been tested!” [sic]

Elaborating on the idea behind this new drone, Zakharov said the new “Lancet” should be compatible with the concept of network-centric warfare, in which a neural network unites a swarm of kamikaze drones into a single detachment. For instance, if one drone discovers a group target, each drone is aware of it.

“And they don’t just know – each UAV chooses the appropriate individual ammunition. The Lancets from the previous generation have been used to test this technique.”

Moreover, the developer of loitering ammunition is discussing the possibility of organizing the production of these drones in other countries, said Alexander Zakharov, chief designer of Zala Aero Group. “It is the production that is being discussed on several continents. Not to say that they are getting in line, but the interest is very stable,” Zakharov said.

Product 53
File Image: Product 53

A New-Gen Lancet

After the broadcast, military experts opined that the design of the new drone and their swarm launch would undoubtedly increase their combat effectiveness.

Indian Air Force veteran and military expert Vijainder K. Thakur told EurAsian Times: “Product 53 is special because it can neutralize different types of threats that together constitute an enemy attacking force. The drone can operate as a swarm. Each drone in the swarm can carry a different type of warhead.”

Giving an example, Thakur said, “A swarm attacking an advancing mechanized infantry column can comprise drones with different warheads, best suited to attack tanks, IFVs, thin-skinned vehicles, towed or self-propelled guns. As a result, one swarm strike can eliminate the entire advancing column.”

Since the swarm drone concept is fast gaining traction globally, with several technologically advanced military industries working on it, EurAsian Times asked the expert whether there is an analog of Product 53 anywhere in the world. Thakur responded in the negative.

Similar inputs were given by Russian drone expert and editor-in-chief of the magazine “Unmanned Aviation” Denis Fedutinov to RIA Novosti, who said Russian Lancet kamikaze drones’ combat potency would grow with the employment of a folding wing and a container launcher, enabling the simultaneous launch of multiple drones from various angles, such as to ensure the destruction of air defense systems.

“Using a package container launcher will make it possible to launch several loitering ammunition quickly. This will increase the effectiveness of destroying armored vehicles. In addition, it will make it possible to almost certainly disable air defense systems due to the simultaneous attack from various angles by several UAVs. We can say ‘Lancets’ with such a scheme of application will become ‘air defense killers,'” Fedutinov said.

The expert claimed that Zala Aero’s design modifications were anticipated. The expert pointed out that they will substantially speed up the process of deploying the complex and launching the UAV because they automatically open the bearing surfaces from the transport position to the flight position when the unmanned vehicle is expelled from the container.