The Lancet drone troubles the Ukrainian soldiers. She destroys high-precision armored vehicles, shelters and artillery. Now it turns out that there are chips and a small computer from the USA working inside.
The Lancet drone is the Russian armed forces’ most effective tank and artillery killer. The Kamikaze Drone can launch itself at its target with high precision – it belongs to the “Loitering Munition” to the “Loitering Weapons”. It’s small enough to evade anti-aircraft defenses. The era of large combat drones like the Turkish TB-2 quickly passed during the Ukraine war. The hunters became the hunted, the relatively slow large drones are now effectively fought over the battlefield.
The small drones, on the other hand, can be launched almost anywhere and are difficult to capture by conventional air defense systems simply because of their size and the construction materials.
Ukrainian military evaluates drone wreckage
A crashed lancet was recovered by the Ukrainian military. It turned out that electronic components from companies in the USA and South Korea make the drone so deadly. Inside was a single-board computer from NVIDIA (Jetson TX2) and a Zynq chip from Xilinx. Xilinx was considered the largest developer and manufacturer of programmable logic ICs. Today, the company belongs to AMD, and Xilinx’s headquarters are in San Jose, California. For this purpose, a chip from the South Korean company SK Hynix was in the drone. The components are on the western sanctions lists and came to Russia as a gray import. It should be possible to at least partially reconstruct the path taken by the found components, but it will hardly be possible to prevent the widespread, everyday chips from being smuggled. The Jetson TX2 or comparable single-board computers can be easily ordered on the Internet in a wide range of performance levels.
Effective precision weapon
The Lancet-3 is in use today, it can transport a warhead weighing three kilograms. With it, she can pierce the top of any armored vehicle. Concrete is broken up to 500 millimeters, which is enough for field fortifications in the Ukraine. The whole drone weighs only 12 kilograms. It is not a quadcopter, the Lancet flies with two pairs of stub wings. Two pairs of X-shaped wings are attached to the front and rear of the fuselage. The drone has an electric motor that drives the two-bladed propeller at the rear. This way she can stay in the air for 40 minutes. The range is 40 kilometers. The Lancet reaches speeds of between 80 km/h and 100 km/h, if it lunges at the target it increases its speed to 300 km/h. The downside is that it has to be launched with a catapult and can’t really land safely if it doesn’t find a target. Therefore, the Lancet is mostly used in tandem with a reusable observation drone. Only when this has identified a target, the kamikaze weapon is started. Videos of the Lancet’s missions therefore mostly come from the observer.
The drone is manufactured by the ZALA Aero Group, which in turn belongs to the Kalashnikov Group. The Lancet was first introduced in 2019 and has already been used by the Russians in Syria. Most of Russia’s combat drones could not prove themselves in combat and delivered only disappointing results. The Lancet is different: it is extremely effective. Probably also thanks to western control electronics.
Stronger version presented
A new, more powerful version was recently announced. The Lancet-5 is said to increase the payload to 5 kilograms. The wings are also said to have been modified. The new model is said to have received a new optical-electronic guidance system and a control system with new software. The drone can transport various explosive devices. Calculated at 5 kilograms, the effect of the thermobaric warhead should be enormous.
The small drones are difficult to hit with conventional ammunition. Airburst projectiles that create a shrapnel mist can only be used by a few dedicated anti-aircraft cannons. The new version of the Lancet is said to have a protective coating against laser weapons.
It’s unclear if the Lancet continues to rely on contraband western technology. At the beginning of March, Beijing lifted the previous restrictions on the export of commercial drones to Russia. The drones are militarized there, but they could also supply the electronics for Russian combat drones.