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UK Defense Ministry: Russia deploys domestically-produced drones based on Shaheds

by Martin Fornusek August 16, 2023 9:59 AM 2 min read
Remains of a Shahed 136 kamikaze drone at an exhibition showing remains of missiles and drones that Russia used to attack Kyiv on May 12, 2023, in Kyiv. (Photo credit: Oleksii Samsonov /Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)
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Russia has almost certainly started to deploy domestically-produced drones based on Iranian Shahed kamikaze drone designs, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its latest intelligence report on Aug. 16.

Domestic production will enable Russia to establish a more stable supply of kamikaze drones to be used in airstrikes against Ukraine, the report noted.

Although Moscow likely hopes to become fully self-sufficient in manufacturing the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), it is currently dependent on components and complete weapons shipped from Iran, mostly via the Caspian Sea, the ministry said.

As the intelligence report pointed out, Shahed drones have so far achieved "variable" results as Ukrainian forces proved capable of intercepting the majority of the incoming UAVs.

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Russian forces have been utilizing Iranian-made drones to strike targets across Ukraine. In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Russia plans to construct a factory to produce drones of Iranian design on Russian territory.

The claim was later backed by U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, who clarified in June that the plant in the Alabuga Special Economic Zone in Tatarstan could become operational in early 2024.

However, researchers from the Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said on Aug. 13 that Russia has already begun making copies of Shahed drones commonly marked as Geran-2. The CAR came to the conclusion upon inspecting the wreckage of two UAVs shot down in southeastern Ukraine.

CNN: Ukraine takes credit for striking Crimean Bridge with sea drone in July
Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) claimed responsibility for the July 17 attack on the Crimean Bridge and said they used an experimental sea drone in the operation, CNN reported on Aug. 15.

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