Iran may transfer a new type of Meraj-521 drones to Russia – Air Force speaker
Yuri Ignat says that there is such a risk. These drones were presented in Iran on October 19.
“The only question is how many of these drones Iran has, which ones they are ready to give to Moscow, or the same ballistic missiles,” said the speaker of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
It is stated that the Meraj-521 range is 5 km, it can carry three types of warheads weighing from 0.5 to 1 kg.
The drone is launched from small launchers, the operator can direct it to the intended target using a special tablet.
Iranian representatives announced the adoption of the Meraj-521 compact loitering ammunition, which can be equipped with three warheads. It has a range of 5 km and an autonomy of up to 15 minutes. The UAV is launched from wearable launchers and is already in service with the special forces of the Ground Forces.
During the ongoing exercises of the IRGC ground forces, these new Meraj-521 kamikaze drones, which entered service with the Saberin rapid reaction forces of the IRGC ground forces, were presented for the first time. It is reported that these light drones launched from portable launchers have a warhead weighing 500, 700 and 1000 grams, a range of up to 5 km and a flight duration of 5 to 15 minutes.
A simple and cheap Iranian “kamikaze” UAV Meraj-504 (an upgraded version of Meraj-214), in service with the ground forces of the IRGC. Range up to 100 km, warhead – 2.5 kg. Different from that above.
Loitering ammunition LAOP-500: double potential
In recent years, a number of loitering ammunition has been created in our country. The development of unmanned aerial vehicles of this class continues, and recently it became known about the existence of another project. Several domestic enterprises are working on UAVs under the designation LAOP-500. Through the use of well-known solutions and new technologies, it is planned to obtain a high level of technical and combat characteristics.
According to the disclosures, the LAOP-500 “disposable aircraft” is being developed by three organizations. This is a joint project of the military technopolis “Era” (Anapa), the Design Bureau of Vladimir Bely (Moscow) and the Moscow NPO “Android Technology”. These organizations have extensive experience in various fields, and the combined efforts made it possible to develop the desired model of equipment and a number of related technologies.
The LAOP-500 project started in the recent past and is still in its early stages. At the recent Army-2022 forum, development organizations presented this project for the first time. Unfortunately, the new UAV has so far only been shown as an image in a flyer. However, already at the next forum they can show a full-fledged layout or a prototype.
Plans for a new loitering ammunition are not specified. Probably, at the moment, the main task of the three organizations is to complete the development and subsequent preparation of tests. Only after that it will be possible to assess the prospects, look for customers and make real plans.
With all this, a promising domestic sample is already being compared with foreign developments of the same class. So, in a number of parameters, the Russian LAOP-500 is similar to the American Switchblade 300 product from AeroVironment. However, due to a more advanced design, the domestic device will be ahead of the competitor in a number of key characteristics.
Elements of the complex
According to the developers, LAOP-500 is a disposable unmanned aerial vehicle with a launcher and elements of artificial intelligence. In fact, we are talking about a light and compact unmanned aircraft system with the ability to conduct reconnaissance, detect targets and immediately destroy them.
The main element of the complex is a light UAV of a characteristic design. The device is a longitudinal biplane. On the fuselage of a rectangular section, two straight wings of high elongation are fixed. In the transport position, the planes are stowed in the fuselage; at the start, they open up and create lift. In the tail section of the drone there are two deployable keels.
The mass of the drone is only 3.5 kg. The payload is 500 g, which is in its name. In the folded position, the UAV is located in the transport and launch container. The length of the TPK does not exceed 1.25 m, the cross section is 180×180 mm. TPK is equipped with a bipod for inclined launch.
LAOP-500 runs on electricity. Batteries are placed inside the fuselage, allowing you to stay in the air for up to 20 minutes. With the help of an electric motor with a pusher propeller, a maximum speed of 130 km / h is achieved. Cruising below – 90 km / h.
A movable camera is placed in the bow of the drone, with the help of which observation is carried out and guidance is carried out on the target during the attack. The composition and parameters of the optics are not specified. Probably, the simplest equipment is used, corresponding to the technical characteristics of the UAV and the specifics of its application.
Serial loitering ammunition “Kub-BLA”
The combat capabilities of the LAOP-500 are unclear. A payload of 500 g is reported. Exactly how this load capacity is used is unknown. Most likely, all 500 g were given to the warhead.
The UAV is controlled by radio, but some automation is possible. Developer organizations offer several options for the control panel. This device may have a traditional form and be carried out in a stationary or portable form. A remote control based on a virtual reality helmet was also created. A variant of the remote control with voice control is being created. In all cases, the remote control and the UAV support two-way communication at distances up to 5 km.
The developers mention that artificial intelligence is used in the LAOP-500 project. How exactly such technologies are involved is not reported. It is likely that the operator console software has intelligent functions and is able to perform individual tasks on its own. In particular, an independent search for potential targets or a smart option for targeting a designated object is possible.
Similarities and differences
As reported, the developers themselves compare their loitering ammunition with the American product Switchblade 300. In addition, in this context, we can recall the domestic aircraft of the Lancet line. Both the already known “Lancets” or “Switchblades” and the promising LAOP-500 have common tasks and design features, but at the same time differ significantly from each other.
It is easy to see that the new LAOP-500 project uses the general scheme and design borrowed from the American UAV. At the same time, the domestic sample is noticeably larger and a kilogram heavier. Due to this, its combat load has been increased to 500 g against 300 g for the American competitor. Both UAVs are easy to carry, launch and use.
Product Zala “Lancet”
At the same time, the LAOP-500 is inferior to the domestic Lancets in terms of its main characteristics. Even the lightest Lancet-1 has a take-off weight of 5 kg and carries 1 kg of explosive. In addition, its batteries provide a flight time of 30 minutes. However, the Lancet needs a rail launcher, which takes time to deploy, and in terms of operation loses LAOP-500.
It should be noted that the most interesting features of the new LAOP-500 project are not related to its flight performance and combat characteristics. Thus, unusual means of control are proposed. The operator can control the drone using a virtual reality helmet, which can affect the perception of the situation and improve situational awareness. In addition, issues of voice control are being worked out, expanding the ways of interaction between man and technology.
The introduction of artificial intelligence is mentioned. How exactly it is used is unclear. But it is obvious that such tools can take over some of the work and reduce the burden on the operator. Thanks to this, the effectiveness of his actions will grow – along with the effectiveness of solving combat missions.
It should be taken into account that new developments in the field of controls can be used not only in the LAOP-500 complex. If artificial intelligence and panels of specific designs justify themselves, then in the future they will find application in the development of new UAVs or other complexes of various kinds.
Thus, the new project LAOP-500 actually solves two main tasks and therefore is of increased interest. First of all, the result of the joint work of the three organizations is a new loitering ammunition that can find a place in the weapons system of our army or be exported. In addition, this project creates and uses new solutions and technologies suitable for use in the creation of other UAVs.
What will be the fate of the recently announced LAOP-500 ammunition is not yet known. He has certain chances to get into the army and supplement the Cube and Lancet UAVs already in her possession. In addition, it can contribute to the development of unmanned systems in terms of technology