In late October, reports surfaced in various Russian media outlets regarding the inaugural deployment of unconventional ordnance—the kamikaze drone known as "Izdeliye-53." This remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicle evolved from the well-established "Lancet" drone family, and its first public unveiling took place in July 2023 during an interview with Alexander Zakharov, the chief designer of "ZALA Aero Group," a subsidiary of the renowned "Kalashnikov" company.
The unveiling hinted at several innovations in both design and operational capabilities, with the most noteworthy being the swarm attack mode. Although the "Izdeliye-53" has not been extensively deployed yet, battlefield reports suggest its active testing in real combat conditions.
This is substantiated by a surge in "Lancet" attacks on Ukrainian targets more than 50 kilometers from the front line, aligning with earlier speculations about an enhanced-range drone variant within the family. Beyond tactical strikes, the primary focus of "product-53" testing appears to be exploring the effectiveness of swarm attacks, potentially leading to a paradigm shift in the strategic use of such weaponry.
While technical details remain largely classified, promotional material indicates that the "kamikaze drone" boasts four forward-swept wings, set at a 45-degree angle—a departure from the "H" configuration found in other "Lancet" models.
Notably, the absence of rear stabilizers is evident, with thrust managed by a tail propeller. The aircraft features a lower fuselage camera for terrain mapping, environmental recording, and target detection. A significant departure from earlier "Lancet" models is observed in the launch mechanism.
Unlike the simple catapult used for "Lancet 1" and "Lancet 3," "izdeljie-53" deploys from a more intricate launch tube, reminiscent of a larger caliber mortar. The relatively lightweight launcher can be hand-carried, or four tubes (arranged 2x2) can be integrated into a single container for convenient storage, transport, and launch.
This streamlined approach eliminates the need for on-site assembly/disassembly. During launch, the unfolding wings contribute to the enhanced range, a feature attributed to the novel launch method. The kamikaze drone is estimated to carry a warhead weighing between three and five kilograms, limiting its ability to obliterate heavily armored vehicles.
However, the emphasis on swarm attacks compensates for this limitation, as "product-53" drones operate cohesively, sharing target data within the group to ensure efficient strikes when a target is identified by any member of the swarm.