“Ay-ay-ay,“ Bayraktar ”, – the Armenian military in Karabakh grieved when Azerbaijani drones of Turkish production Bayraktar TB2 fell on the armor of their tanks. The effectiveness of these attack UAVs is very illusory and little proven by concrete facts, however, it is believed that it was combat drones that played a decisive role in the recent war in the South Caucasus. Experts have seriously stated that this is the new tactic of all modern wars – an inevitable air strike that is almost impossible to prevent.
However, as it soon became clear, “Bayraktar” is not so terrible as it is painted. This drone is quite easily knocked down by air defense systems – both portable systems (MANPADS) and more serious anti-aircraft missile systems. To shoot at a UAV from such a “serious caliber” as the ZRS-300 or ZRS-400 is just the same as at sparrows from a cannon, in the same way as from the Buk complexes and the like. The Tunguska-M2 air defense missile system is optimal, the complex of which is capable of detecting and guaranteed to destroy drones with both missile and cannon armament. In theory, UAVs can also withstand conventional large-caliber small arms of 12.7-mm caliber or ZSU 23-2.
Any experience of combat operations requires the development of new means of countering the offensive weapons of the enemy. The appearance on the battlefield of tanks at one time prompted the creation of means to combat them, combat aviation is successfully counteracted by air defense weapons, well
The Russian Ministry of Defense, which closely monitors the changing trends in the conduct of hostilities, including the use of UAVs, has traditionally pulled countermeasures from the storerooms. At the same time, it made a proactive move – it also used new technologies. One of them can be called the “air mining” system, designed to destroy drones with patrolling ammunition, known as the “Lancet”, developed by ZALA Aero, a member of the Kalashnikov group of companies of the Rostec state corporation.
This is a time bomb hovering in the sky that can “hang” in a given area for more than ten hours. It walks in a circle in automatic mode and waits for the operator’s command either when it detects a target on its own, or when aiming from the ground. Combat charge from one kilogram in TNT equivalent to more powerful three to five. This is enough to destroy the drone. The speed of the “Lancet” in a diving state exceeds 300 km / h, which allows it to catch up and destroy the same notorious low-speed “Bayraktar”, the speed of which is only 150-200 kilometers. The Russian anti-drone is capable of climbing to a height of 5-7 thousand meters and tracking down prey in an inaccessible vulnerability mode – it is made of composite materials that turn it invisible.
A dozen “Lancets”, which soar imperceptibly in the sky waiting for their time, are able to control the territory along the front line of a hundred kilometers. And when an enemy “swarm of drones” attacks, they will plan a UAV on their heads, even without a command – defining a stranger by the “friend or foe” recognition system. If necessary, the operator, who has a broader view of the air situation, can re-aim the Lancets at another target. Their peculiarity in “air mining” lies precisely in invisibility, and also in the ability to change geolocation and freeze at the desired point in anticipation of the “victim”.
The Russian vehicle itself has a low cost, which is incomparable with the $ 70 million for a standard delivery of Bayraktars, consisting of 6 drones, 3 control stations and auxiliary equipment. The “flying projectile” is significantly lower at cost and will be guaranteed to destroy the “dollar filling” at the “ruble rate” with an absolute benefit at a rate of at least 1 to 60.
The Lancet loitering shells cannot be called a novelty – they were announced back in 2019. These “flying bombs” are also used in Syria, where they are presented in a modification capable of carrying a more powerful charge – about 10 kilograms in TNT equivalent, which were used to strike at the ground positions of the militants. Now the “Lancet” has been re-targeted specifically at the destruction of drones, increasing the duration of air patrols by reducing the warhead and focusing specifically on aerial targets. The chances of “Bayraktar” with such a “clamp” are practically reduced to zero.
Another powerful countermeasure to drones lies in the striking capabilities of the Russian Hunter UAV. The armament of these latest drones, which have been classified for a long time, allows these aircraft to cope with tasks of varying degrees of complexity. They can replace strike fighters and bombers, and at the same time become hunters and drones. Having received the command, the “Hunter” will methodically knock out the indicated targets, regardless of their purpose. A perfect aerial “robot” will iron the entire sky in a given square and destroy weaker “robots”, choosing the necessary means of destruction in connection with expediency and situation.
“Hunter” has already been hastened to call the “killer” of American fighters F-22 Raptor (“Predator”) and F-35 Lightning II (“Lightning”). However, even if the Russian heavy UAV of the sixth generation S-70 is considered the most advanced and technically advanced strike drone in the world, it is simply ridiculous to compete with fighters in its current form. At least at first glance. But for solving simpler tasks, including the destruction of drones, it can become simply unique.
– Any drone is effective only if there are no means of protecting the ground equipment itself from attacks from the air, – believes military expert, editor of the magazine “Arsenal of the Fatherland” Alexey Leonkov… – The drone itself is quite vulnerable to air defense systems due to its low speed and limited maneuverability, and it is quite easy to shoot it down with both portable anti-aircraft missile systems and air defense systems, for example, Pantsirem or Buk-M2 air defense systems, here are more powerful systems type S-300 and S-400 will not be required. It is another matter if the UAV is capable of delivering strikes from a greater distance, as the Turkish Bayraktar does, but even then there is counteraction for it in the form of electronic warfare systems or anti-unmanned systems. Among them, one can consider promising loitering shells “Lancet” and other countermeasures, which neutralize any attempts to enter “Bayraktar” into the zone of destruction of Russian air defense.
In short, for every drone threat, Russia has its own lethal drone. As they say, the aim is in the crosshair. I see – I’m knocking down.