Russia’s new superior model of suicide drone spotted in Ukraine

People look at Russian drones installed as a symbol of war in central Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, June 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

The Russian military has switched to a new, longer-range drone to facilitate its ongoing offensive in Ukraine, reports suggest.

As part of Moscow’s strategy to bolster its ranged weaponry ahead of the Ukrainian winter, its previously-used, Iranian-made Shahed suicide drone has been shelved in favor of the revamped Italmas model.

According to a report by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), the Italmas drone, which is harder to detect on radar and cheaper to produce, has been spotted several times in the Kyiv region in recent days.

The model was developed by the ZALA Aero Group in Russia and was first unveiled in September 2023 before being deployed to the front line earlier this month.

The Italmas drone is reportedly a much more effective weapon than the Russian drone used so far. The weapon can travel up to 200 kilometers and can be equipped with a larger warhead than before. All of this is possible because the device is lighter than the Shahed model.

It is equipped with a petrol engine with its fuel tank mounted in the wing structure, the ISW report notes.

Russian sources have claimed that in the future, the Italmas drones will be used in parallel with Iran’s Shahed drones.

It had been reported that Moscow was working on developing new drones to strike Ukrainian infrastructure more effectively, but Kyiv officials have been surprised at how quickly the new models have entered into operation.

The drone war in Ukraine could become a bigger issue again in the coming months. As the winter weather starts to hamper the movement of ground troops, the warring parties may increasingly turn to drone warfare.

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