MOSCOW — Over the past few years, Russia’s most famous gun manufacturer Kalashnikov has been busy diversifying its product portfolio to include things such as patrol boats and light reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles. And at IDEX 2019, the company unveiled its newest offering: a kind of kamikaze drone known as KUB.
But you wouldn’t know that from the English-language press release, in which KUB was introduced simply as a “high-precision unmanned attack complex...designed for defeating remote ground targets.” Kalashnikov says the drone — which boasts a payload of 3 kilograms and a flight time of 30 minutes at 80 to 130 kilometers per hour — is silent, covertly launched.
Kalashnikov, like many Russian defense companies, is a subsidiary of Rostec — a massive defense and high-technology holding company. Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov was quoted in a statement on Feb 17 as saying KUB delivers a warhead to the target “whether the target is concealed or not, both at low and high altitudes.”
“It is [an] extremely accurate and efficient weapon,” Chemezov said at IDEX on Sunday, adding that it is “very hard to combat by traditional air defense systems.”
Kalashnikov did not respond to a request for clarification on how the drone delivers its payload to its targets before this article was published. However, Russian media reports elaborate that KUB is, in fact, a suicide drone that detonates itself when in range of the target. With a payload of 3 kilograms, it is probably something akin to a flying grenade. Kalashnikov is displaying a 1:2 scale model of the drone at IDEX. The real KUB is also tiny, sporting dimensions of 1210х950х165 mm, according to the Kalashnikov statement. The drone was developed by Kalashnikov subsidiary ZALA Aero, a major Russian drone manufacturer. Russia still lags behind the U.S. in terms of large strike drones.
Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi is reportedly working on a heavy stealth strike UAV known as Okhotnik (Hunter). Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko told military TV channel Zvezda in December that the drone is expected to make its first appearance sometime in the spring.
Matthew Bodner covered Russian affairs for Defense News.