State media of the russian federation have shared a video report from a factory producing Lancet loitering munitions belonging to ZALA Aero company, one of the subsidiaries of JSC Kalashnikov Concern. The production lines were set right inside the premises of a former shopping mall.
This report has caused resonance, especially in Ukraine as it showcased the scale of manufacture of this weapon that poses a serious threat to Ukrainian equipment and personnel on the frontline of the russian invasion. But the real value of this video is in the barely visible details.
Read more: Lancet Loitering Munition Production to Increase in russia, Ukraine's Already Looking For Countermeasures
For starters, It looks like the russians inadvertently disclosed the "weakness" of their Lancet as a reconnaissance and attack unmanned aerial system. Earlier, russian propaganda insisted that Lancet can autonomously find its target on the battlefield, now they admit that target designation and "hit confirmation" be done in a pair with a SuperCam recon drone which is produced by the same JSC Kalashnikov.
Lancet manufacturers also stated that they managed to create an improved version that received index Izdeliye 53 (Product 53). The new variant has folding wings, can be launched straight from the container for transportation, and allegedly has a swarm attack capability. however, to illustrate the capabilities of this novelty, they turned to animated motion graphics instead of live footage which should be at hand if the associated weapon tests had taken place in reality.
On the flip side, the same video as well shows the "strengths" of the Lancet suicide drone manufacture in russia. Foremostly, we should pay attention to the fact that the Kalashnikov Concern management basically overcame the challenge of scaling up Lancet production even if they had to involve their administrative resource to buy the shopping mall.
Lancet manufacturers say they intentionally and knowingly gave up on conveyors in making fuselage elements and drone assembly. it is hard to tell how close this claim is to the truth but at least the issue of staff shortage has been resolved, after the struggle to convince personnel to work for the military industry in wartime.
In addition, Kalashnikov Concern at least tries to display its readiness for the "work of attrition" by attracting young people who have an interest in assembling unmanned aircraft models with the prospect to raise them as UAV assembly specialists in the future.
Anyway, we should consider the following aspects from now on. Apparently, it is not the last propaganda video that this or that russian company will try to release in an attempt to showcase its success in making any sort of "flagship" drone technology.
Because besides the Kalashnikov with its Lancet loitering munition, there is also the Alabuga project of assembling iranian Shahed-136 drones on the territory of russia, or the Kronshtadt enterprise with the Orion attack UAS. Each of those companies wants as much money as possible from the state budget, and the best way to achieve that is to make such videos promoting their successes with obvious exaggerations – like the fact Lancet makers used mirrors to create the image of hundreds and hundreds of Lancet drones assembled at the "shopping mall factory."
If more of such videos appear, they should be analyzed in the same way. But while doing so, we should be careful and distinguish between misrepresenting statements of propaganda and actual strong points of the russian war machine.