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​russia Modified the Shahed-136 Drone Warhead for the Third Time, Incorporating Both Shaped Charge and Incendiary Effect (Photos)

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The BST-52 warhead / Defense Express
The BST-52 warhead / Defense Express

The Shahed-136 kamikaze drones have been upgraded with the advanced BST-52 russian-made warhead

The Shahed-136 long-range kamikaze drones have undergone an upgrade, featuring a new version of the russian-made warhead. This upgraded warhead, called BST-52, is an evolution of its predecessor with the designation MSNI, incorporating additional shaped charge and incendiary effect during the modernization process. Notably, this marks the third version of the russian warhead, following the introduction of the BSF warheads in July 2023.

The BST-52 warhead Defense Express russia Modified the Shahed-136 Drone Warhead for the Third Time, Incorporating Both Cumulative and Incendiary Effects (Photos)
The BST-52 warhead / Defense Express

Information and images of the enhanced warhead were obtained by Defense Express from undisclosed sources. The warhead was discovered on a downed black Shahed-136 drone recently employed by russia and subsequently intercepted by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The National Police also released photos of the warhead.

Read more: ​russian Shahed-Type Drones Increasingly Fall Down on Ukrainian Soil Undamaged
Black Shahed drone Defense Express russia Modified the Shahed-136 Drone Warhead for the Third Time, Incorporating Both Cumulative and Incendiary Effects (Photos)
Black Shahed drone / Photo credit: The National Police of Ukraine

The new warhead is identified by the marking BST-52 and bears the production number 206-2-23, signifying its manufacture in 2023. The precise meaning of 206-2 remains unclear pending further data analysis.

The BST-52 warhead Defense Express russia Modified the Shahed-136 Drone Warhead for the Third Time, Incorporating Both Cumulative and Incendiary Effects (Photos)
The BST-52 warhead / Defense Express

Equipped with a shaped charge recess, the enhanced warhead’s most perilous feature is its supplementary thermal effect upon detonation. This effect is achieved through the inclusion of incendiary elements, likely thermite charges, positioned in the center of the warhead.

The BST-52 shaped charge Defense Express russia Modified the Shahed-136 Drone Warhead for the Third Time, Incorporating Both Cumulative and Incendiary Effects (Photos)
The BST-52 shaped charge / Defense Express

It can be assumed that unverified reports of a thermobaric warhead on Shaheds in early December 2023 may be linked to this warhead, featuring an added incendiary effect.

The Shahed drone warhead Defense Express russia Modified the Shahed-136 Drone Warhead for the Third Time, Incorporating Both Cumulative and Incendiary Effects (Photos)
The Shahed drone warhead / Photo credit: Conflict Armament Research

Overall, the endeavor to create a warhead with such a diverse array of effects in russia bears resemblance to the original warhead of the Iranian-produced Shahed-136. It had a large number of shaped charges, which indicated the misunderstanding of its developers of the physical processes of forming an explosively shaped penetrator, as well as ready-made striking elements.

The BST-52 warhead Defense Express russia Modified the Shahed-136 Drone Warhead for the Third Time, Incorporating Both Cumulative and Incendiary Effects (Photos)
The BST-52 warhead / Defense Express

Interestingly, the BSF warheads, likely employed in other russian missiles, have not been observed recently. It is possible that the BST-52 warhead may eventually replace the MSNI warhead, becoming the standard warhead for another russian missile once existing stockpiles are depleted. The available evidence suggests that the BST-52 warhead has been specifically developed for Shahed drones.

The MSNI warhead Defense Express russia Modified the Shahed-136 Drone Warhead for the Third Time, Incorporating Both Cumulative and Incendiary Effects (Photos)
The MSNI warhead / Defense Express
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