Russia develops Multiple Launch Drone System for Lancet drone

Based on information circulating on Russian social media as of August 28, 2023, there are indications that Russia might be in the developmental stages of a 6x6 Multiple Launch Drone System (MLDS) intended for the latest iteration of Lancet kamikaze drones.
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Russia develops a Multiple Launch Drone System for the latest Lancet drone (Picture source: Russian social media)

This MLDS prototype, reportedly attributed to the Kalashnikov group, showcases a dual control station and is outfitted with 16 transport-launch containers designed for deploying drones. The platform seems to be based on the 6x6 Kamaz 5350 Patrol armored vehicle.

The primary purpose of this prototype appears to be streamlining the launch process for the most advanced Lancet variant, known as the Izdelie-53/Item-53. This version features four folding wings, allowing it to fit into a new tube launcher capable of accommodating up to four Lancet drones. With 16 launchers in place, the MLDS theoretically has the potential to launch 64 Lancets against enemy targets. This contrasts with the current method of individually launching Lancet drones via a catapult launcher.

An intriguing feature of this prototype is the incorporation of a control center designed for two UAV operators. This design aims to enable coordinated group attacks and aligns with a notable aspect of the Izdelie-53 drones. These drones can share crucial information about the presence of armored vehicles and concentrations of targets among themselves. This communication system empowers the drones to autonomously select targets based on predefined categories, enhancing their effectiveness in coordinated strikes.

The system's layout includes an armored cabin, followed by an operator center (potentially also armored), and the launcher itself, which houses a pod containing 16 Izdelie-53 tube launchers. This configuration facilitates drone launches from various locations and swift repositioning. Furthermore, the increased number of launchers enhances the system's potential to engage a greater number of objectives and enables multiple Lancet drones to engage a single target simultaneously.

The Lancet drone, also referred to as Item 52/Item 51, is a UAV and loitering munition developed by Russia's Zala Aero Group. It serves for both reconnaissance and strike missions. Equipped with optical-electronic and TV guidance systems, the Lancet ensures precise control during the final flight phase. Additionally, it integrates modules for intelligence, navigation, and communication, enhancing its operational capabilities.

A notable characteristic of the Lancet is its "air mining" function, allowing the drone to attain speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour and engage enemy unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) in-flight, effectively neutralizing them. With a range of 40 kilometers and a takeoff weight of 12 kilograms, the drone can deploy high-explosive, thermobaric, HE-fragmentation, or high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warheads with accuracy, making it a valuable tool for the Russian military.

As reported by the Army Recognition editorial team on July 20, 2023, Russia has significantly increased its production of Lancet drones, including the advanced Izdelie-53/Item-53 version. Distinguished by a novel tube launcher capable of accommodating up to four drones, the Izdelie-53 is engineered to function within a swarm of drones concept, enabling targeted strikes against grouped targets. When a Lancet drone detects the presence of armored vehicles or target concentrations, it communicates this data to other drones in the swarm, leading to a coordinated and efficient engagement against identified targets.

The Kamaz 5350 'Patrol' armored vehicle was introduced in 2017 with the initial purpose of transporting engineering and sapper teams in a 4x4 configuration. Its purpose and design were subsequently adapted. At the Army-2018 event, the vehicle was presented with a three-axle design and a light engineering mine trawl known as LMT-K. Interestingly, the LMT-K trawl was again exhibited at the Army-2019 forum, this time mounted on the Typhoon K-53949 4x4 armored vehicle.

The Kamaz 5350 ‘Patrol’ has a weight of 12,540 kg and is propelled by a 260 hp Kamaz-740 diesel engine. The vehicle employs a mechanical gearbox and attains a maximum speed of 100 km/h. With the ability to accommodate a crew of up to 10 individuals, the 5350 ‘Patrol’ incorporates security features such as Br4 frontal protection level, along with Br5 anti-mine underbody shielding capable of withstanding up to 6 kg of explosive force.

MLDS Lancet 925 002

The MLDS could be mounted on the Kamaz 5350 Patrol 6x6 armored vehicle (Picture source: Russian social media)