Among the data leaked by hackers from the PRANA Network group, there were not only valuable documents on the production of Shahed-type loitering munitions in russia. The same source also disclosed another project, although it's so far only in the concept development stage of completion.
The russian defense industry decided to revisit the idea of transforming the An-2 aircraft fleet into decoy targets for oversaturation of enemy air defense systems, similar to the way Azerbaijan used this plane in 2020. The difference, though, is that the russian version is supposed to tow a Lancet loitering munition to immediately initiate a strike on the revealed hostile air defenses.
The outlines of the idea are as follows: an An-2 is converted into an unmanned aerial vehicle that flies at an altitude of around 4 km in order to prompt enemy (read: Ukrainian) medium- and long-range surface-to-air missile systems to expend ammunition.
Meanwhile, a Lancet suicide drone is attached by a sturdy cable to the carrier, much like a trailer follows a car. The smaller drone gets power supply via this cable. Lancet keeps its distance so it does not get damaged by the fragmentation of the enemy interceptor or the wreckage of An-2. The concept implies that the uncrewed An-2 itself could be a kamikaze drone or carry bombs.
The viability of this project relies on the claim that there are about 1,400 An-2 biplanes available for such revamp in russia, each costing 1 million at most, and components for this type of aircraft are still produced in China. Another reason stems from the fact that An-2 is relatively easy to maintain in field conditions, plus there are many technicians familiar with it.
On the part of Defense Express, despite the underlying preposterousness of this project, the russians may actually try and make it reality. Worth recalling that in July 2022, a russian military-industrial company announced it would turn An-2s into drones over the next two years.