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UMPK-Enhanced russian KAB Bombs Now Have More Sophisticated Electronics, Weapon Researchers Found

A russian KAB bomb equipped with a UMPK gliding and guidance kit / Open source illustrative photo
A russian KAB bomb equipped with a UMPK gliding and guidance kit / Open source illustrative photo
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russia improves its makeshift guided air bombs, as findings reveal the electronic components of the UMPK guiding kits have leveled-up since their advent

A comprehensive study of the wreckage of a russian KAB-type air bomb equipped with a UMPK guidance kit, discovered near Orikhiv in southern Ukraine in October 2023, reveals significant upgrades to the electronics unit of this air-launched weapon compared to earlier versions.

Specifically, now the bomb can navigate not only through the Kometa-M module (typically used in aerial drones) but also a sophisticated SMART navigation controller, British research analysts from Conflict Armament Research (CAR) found out.

Read more: ​The russians Used the UMPK Module to Convert the FAB-250 Into a Guided Aerial Bomb

The study by CAR indicates enhancements such as the installation of two batteries to power the electronics, the use of two servo motors to control the bomb's ailerons, and the utilization of a squib (small explosive device) to unfold the wings of the UMPK.

On a note from Defense Express, the latter seems to be the solution russians found to the problem that even led to injuries among technicians because earlier the wings were kept together by an unreliable mechanical retainer. The CAR study doesn't specify this aspect, though.

The wings of the glider are unfolded by a powerul spring
The wings of the glider are unfolded by a powerful spring / Photo credit: Conflict Armament Research

The researchers vaguely note:

"According to Ukrainian officers interviewed by CAR, the addition of this system to air-dropped munitions increases the effective range of engagement by as much as 35–40 km."

Five main electronic components from a russian guided air bomb dropped in the Orikhiv area in October 2023
Five main electronic components from a russian guided air bomb dropped in the Orikhiv area in October 2023 / Photo credit: Conflict Armament Research

However, they did not specify whether such an increase was achieved by the recent improvement in the electronics unit or by application of UMPK in general.

Defense Express assumes that the evolution in electronics not so much contributes to further extending the operational range of UMPK-enhanced munition as makes it more reliable and accurate by providing better navigation.

SMART navigation controller from a russian guided air bomb dropped in the Orikhiv area in October 2023
SMART navigation controller from a russian guided air bomb dropped in the Orikhiv area in October 2023 / Photo credit: Conflict Armament Research

Markings on the electronics from the analyzed bomb indicate manufacturing in July 2023. Notably, any traces that could identify the origin of these electronic components were deliberately erased, likely to prevent accusations against russian suppliers of violating sanctions.

CAR compared the new sample of the guided bomb with a UMPK module to a bomb dropped in the Bakhmut area in January 2023, which they also analyzed. The earlier version had a simpler electronic circuit comprising a voltage regulator, a navigation panel, and an inertial measurement unit, with components manufactured in September 2022.

Primitive electronics from a russian guided aerial bomb dropped in the Bakhmut area in January 2023
Primitive electronics from a russian guided aerial bomb dropped in the Bakhmut area in January 2023 / Photo credit: Conflict Armament Research

It's noteworthy that in both cases, there's a 3–4 month gap between the time these components were manufactured and the moment the bomb was dropped. Defense Express suggests it's an indication of russian defense industry's ability to stockpile electronics.

The study shows that even in such "quantity over quality" weapons like guided air bombs with UMPK, there's room for evolution, and there's room for more sanctions to be imposed.

Read more: Pokrova EW System is a Real Game-Changer in Ukrainian Fight Against Shahed-136 Drones and Cruise Missiles, That Renders GPS Receivers Useless