Russia Steps Up Local Production of ZALA Lancet Kamikaze Drones

By Arie Egozi

Defence Industry

Tel Aviv: In parallel of using Iranian made armed drones in Ukraine, Moscow is stepping up the local production of such weapon systems.

On July 16, 2023, Russia-1 TV aired a report about the capabilities, history, and production of the ZALA Lancet kamikaze drones. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the report features interviews with ZALA chief designer Alexander Zakharov, an interview with a Lancet drone operator, footage of Lancet drone strikes in Ukraine, and footage of the Lancet production process. The report also highlighted that the production of Lancets has increased as much as 50 times since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, and there are enough Lancet units to target every NATO tank in Ukraine.

The report explains that there are two types of Lancet drones (dubbed “Item 51” and “Item 52”), which vary in payload and in range, and it unveils the next generation of Lancet drones (dubbed “Item 53”), which are portable, can be launched in swarms, can operate as a neural network, and have intelligent targeting systems that prioritize high-value equipment such as radars and armoured vehicles.

In addition, the report explains how Lancets are deployed alongside a reconnaissance drone that transmits target coordinates to it, and it shows the Lancet production facility, which was built in an abandoned shopping centre purportedly without any government funding.

Zakharov explained that Russian special forces units used ZALA drones in Syria, providing the company with valuable experience, and he said that Lancets cannot be jammed by NATO’s electronic warfare equipment.

Alexander Zakharov said in the Russian TV report that ‘Lancet’ is the drone’s nickname, and it has already caught on. “Everyone understands that a Lancet is a surgical tool. But there are two models. They differ in range and in the power of the warhead. But these are two different models [known as] ‘Item 51’ and ‘Item 52’.”

According to the report, the Russian company is making a huge effort to answer the big demand. “One option is to use shopping centres abandoned by Western companies like IKEA and Decathlon and urgently set up drone assembly lines there. It is cheaper than building factories from scratch. Everything for the front. Everything for victory,” said the company officials.