Earlier last week, Ukraine Weapons Tracker released a video showing the destruction of a Ukrainian Stormer HVM short-range air-defense system. In the 26-second clip, an unmanned aerial vehicle can be seen flying toward the system.
Once the drone strikes its target, smoke billows forth. It appears the HVM may have hit a landmine prior to being targeted by the drone and that two crew members were able to exit the vehicle after the attack.
The ZALA Lancet, reportedly responsible for taking out the HVM in the circulated video, is a domestically produced loitering munition designed by Russia-based ZALA Aero Group for the Russian Armed Forces.
Last month, Russian state media outlets proclaimed that the Lancet is singlehandedly responsible for destroying nearly half of the NATO-derived artillery in Ukrainian hands.
According to these outlets, Russian forces have wiped out 59 M777s, 13 M109 Paladin SPGs, 30 foreign SPGS and 14 HIMARS launchers.
The Lancet Is an Impressive Kamikaze Drone
An electric motor powers the Lancet, driving a two-bladed propeller located at its rear.
According to Military Today, “The standard version has a maximum range of 40 km and an endurance of around 40 minutes. The weight is only 12 kg thanks to the use of plastic and composite materials in its structure. Such suicide drones are capable of hovering in the air and swooping down on the target at a speed of up to 300 km/h to hit it on its most vulnerable part. The Kremlin is quite proud of the Lancet and the effective role it continues to play in Ukraine.”
In recent months, several NATO member states, as well as other Western nations, have delivered significant amounts of monetary aid, equipment, and weaponry to support Ukraine’s defensive efforts against Russian attacks like those the video depicts.
An undisclosed number of UK-produced Stormer HVM vehicles arrived in Kyiv last year. This air-defense system is derived from the chassis of a modified Alvis Stormer armored personnel carrier.
Moscow Is Running Out of Weapons
Moscow’s arsenal of main battle tanks, missiles, and other munitions has dwindled over 14 months of warfare. As such, its forces have come to depend more on killer UAVs to carry out certain missions. Drones are a cheap and versatile alternative that allows Moscow to launch extensive barrages. Taking out Ukraine’s air-defense systems is paramount for the Kremlin, since the advancement of Russian troops has stalled.
While the Lancet has proven to be a capable weapon, Russia probably has a diminishing stockpile of this loitering munition. Once Ukraine launches its imminent counteroffensive, Moscow will need all the drones it can get to hold its line.
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 7, 2023
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.