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Think tank: Construction of Russian 'kamikaze' drone factory progressing

by Elsa Court November 14, 2023 11:30 AM 2 min read
Fragments of the Iranian drone Shahed-136 (Russia named Geran 2), displayed in Kyiv on Aug. 24, 2023. (Aleksandr Gusev/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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Satellite imagery shows that a Russian factory that will build Iranian-designed Shahed-type drones is progressing, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) reported on Nov. 13.

A satellite image from Sept. 15 shows that construction of the plant in Tatarstan directly correlates to leaked plans that the Washington Post published together with ISIS in August.  

The plant has expanded to house motor test cells, an outer wall for security, and checkpoints.

The ongoing construction is "consistent with the main timeline revealed in internal documents," the think tank said.

The site is currently being used for assembling drone components provided by Iran, but will be able to transition to make essential components for the drones on site from 2024 onward.

These include navigation components, the drone's engine, and the propeller.  

ISIS expects monthly drone production to increase to up to 226 drones per month in 2024, "for a total of 6,000 drones produced by September 2025."

Russia will then have the ability to regularly attack Ukraine with hundreds of "kamikaze" drones at a time.

The plans of the manufacturing company Alabuga Joint Stock Company involve "not only adopting Iranian production processes but improving and streamlining them, and ultimately advancing the drone’s capabilities," the think tank said.

The company is not yet covered by western sanctions, the think tank noted. The Russian state holds 66% of the company's shares, while the rest are held by Russia's Republic of Tatarstan.

"A key, overdue first step is for the United States and its allies to sanction JSC Alabuga and its associated companies."

Russia often launches "kamikaze" Shahed-type drones at night to exhaust and detect Ukrainian air defense to then fire missiles from its aircraft or missile carriers.

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