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​To Make Suicide UAVs For Terrorist Attacks in Ukraine, russia Uses Components Produced by 22 Companies From 7 Countries

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Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone launch / Illustrative image from open sources
Iranian-made Shahed-136 drone launch / Illustrative image from open sources

The russians localized production of Iranian-made Shahed-136 kamikaze drones, but still depend on foreign supplies

In July 2023, it became known that the russian federation had already started using Shahed-136 kamikaze drones, also known as Geran-2 (Geran - ‘Герань’ - russian for geranium), which were already produced directly at the facilities of russian industry, for strikes against Ukraine.

However, the analysis of the remnants of such drones shows that, although the russians have done everything to make the production of these UAVs as cheap as possible and scale up, russia still depends on external supplies of components - it is necessary to import more than 100 components, which are manufactured by a total of 22 companies from 7 countries. The lion's share of producers of these elements is located in China, Switzerland and the USA. This is stated in a special report of the Conflict Armament Research (CAR).

Read more: This Night's Shahed-136 Attack on Ukraine Indicates a Dangerous Trend, and It's Not About the Number of Drones
To Make Suicide UAVs For Terrorist Attacks in Ukraine, russia Uses Components Produced by 22 Companies From 7 Countries, Defense Express
B-103 starter unit in a Geran-2 UAV in July 2023 (right) differs in its configuration and markings from starter units documented in Shahed–series UAVs in Ukraine (left) / Photo credit: Conflict Armament Research

To Make Suicide UAVs For Terrorist Attacks in Ukraine, russia Uses Components Produced by 22 Companies From 7 Countries, Defense Express
Markings on a relay documented inside a Geran-2 UAV indicating production in March 2023 / Photo credit: Conflict Armament Research

CAR analysts emphasize that they cannot yet name these suppliers, because they have not yet completed all the procedures for tracking them, according to their methodology. But they indicate that roughly a third of the foreign components found in the russian-made Shahed-136 or Geran-2 UAVs shot down earlier in Ukraine were manufactured between 2020 and February 2022, and another 12 components were manufactured after February 2022, as well as all three elements of the russian federation's production to its "kamikaze drones" - already during January-March 2023.

As for the basic differences between the Shahed-136, the Russian-made Geran-2 UAVs and the Iranian one, the conclusions of Conflict Armament Research are generally identical to what Defense Express previously reported in one of its publications. Therefore, we recommend that you read our article about the five main differences between the Russian Shahed and the Iranian one.

To Make Suicide UAVs For Terrorist Attacks in Ukraine, russia Uses Components Produced by 22 Companies From 7 Countries, Defense Express

Instead, we note that CAR analysts managed to shed light on an important detail - it seems that in order to scale the production of Iranian-style kamikaze drones at their facilities, the Russians deliberately simplified the production of not only body elements, but also elements of on-board electronics.

That's at least from a visual comparison the CAR team made of the differences in the appearance of the B-103 starter unit, on-board computer, and other elements in the B-101 flight control unit. The detailing of the appearance of the navigation unit using the "Comet" module, typical for other russian UAVs, also deserves special attention.

To Make Suicide UAVs For Terrorist Attacks in Ukraine, russia Uses Components Produced by 22 Companies From 7 Countries, Defense Express
B-105 satellite navigation unit of russian-made Shahed-136, July 2023 / Photo credit: Conflict Armament Research.

Find CAR’s “Documenting the domestic Russian variant of the Shahed UAV” special report here.

Read more: China's Developing Own Shahed-136 Analog With a Jet Engine