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​The UK Defense Intelligence Analyzed the Improvements in russian Shahed Drones

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The Shahed 136 kamikadze drone / open source
The Shahed 136 kamikadze drone / open source

Since mid-2023, russia has ramped up production of Shahed drones, likely supplementing Iranian-supplied models with domestically manufactured versions

Since mid-2023, russia has almost certainly augmented Iranian-supplied Shahed one-way attack unmanned aerial vehicles (OWA UAVs) with similar weapons made in facilities in russia. Russia is now almost certainly attempting to incorporate improvements to the OWA UAV designs based on operational experience, the UK Defense Intelligence reports.

In late November 2023, a downed UAV was reported as being fitted with a Ukrainian SIM card and 4G modem. This is likely a russian improvised modification to improve real-time guidance using cell towers to reduce reliance on satellite navigation. There is a realistic possibility that it is also attempting to mitigate Ukrainian electronic warfare measures.

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The Shahed 136 kamikadze drone Defense Express The UK Defense Intelligence Analyzed the Improvements in russian Shahed Drones
The Shahed 136 kamikadze drone / Photo credit: Sobhan Farajvan

Some other russian-made OWA UAVs have likely to been given a black finish, making it harder to visually identify the incoming drones at night. Russia is increasingly employing OWA UAVs in large raids in an attempt to overwhelm Ukrainian air defences. However, Ukraine continues to successfully neutralize the majority of incoming weapons.

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