UAV “Scalpel”, an innovation in defense or just a cardboard imitation?

8 December 2023 10 minutes Author: Cyber Witcher

Behind the scenes of ‘Scalpel’: Revealing the secrets of the new Russian drone

Opening the curtain on the current development of Russian UAVs, this article sheds light on key aspects of production and possible doubts surrounding the new Scalpel drone, presented as a “budget alternative to the Lancet” and announced for release in October 2023. In September 2023, the world saw the announcement of the new Russian Scalpel drone, presented as a budget alternative to the Lancet. However, it turned out that “Scalpel” may be nothing more than a cardboard dummy, hiding behind it a scheme to supply drones from China. This UAV, according to Russian propaganda media, has a speed of over 120 km/h and a flight range of up to 40 km.

However, tests and orders from Russian military units raise doubts, especially given the partial use of foreign, in particular Chinese components, that the real drone may differ from the declared characteristics. Further research revealed that Chinese drones may be hidden under the guise of ‘Scalpel’. This is confirmed by the supply of video cameras and other components from Chinese companies such as Foxtech Hobby Co and Skywalker Technology Co to the Russian company Atlant Engineering. The research also found that information about the Scalpel can be inconsistent, with different characteristics depending on the source, indicating the possibility that In this article you will find a detailed analysis of the new Russian UAV Scalpel, which was announced as a budget alternative to the Lancet.

“Scalpel”. What is known about this drone?

In 2023-9, the Russians announced the release of a new drone called the scalpel. It was presented as a “budget alternative to The Lancet”. The release of a female combat model was promised already in 2023-10. But after analyzing information about this drone, analysts found a similar drone. Its manufacturer is China. Is it really the Russian “scalpel” – the blurring of the eyes in the plan with cardboard mannequins and deliveries of drones from China to Russia?

Although these drones are similar in appearance, they differ in characteristics, as we can see.

This photo of the Scalpel drone was published in the Russian Telegram group “chronicles of the UAV operator”. In the comments, the Russians have already dubbed it a “cheap lancet”

In September, the Russian design bureau “Vostok” (OOO KB Vostok) announced the start of mass production of “Scalpels”. According to the statement, some of the components are of foreign production, but most of it is a product of the Russian military machine and announced that they will release these drones as early as October 2023.

Prototypes of the Scalpel drone appear to be made of wood.

According to media articles (1, 2), the Scalpel drone has already been tested and will soon be sent to war against Ukraine. CB “Vostok” has already received an order from Russian military units. But some parts of this drone are foreign, in particular Chinese. According to this photo, 5 prototypes of the drone have been created so far

Is “Scalpel” a cardboard dummy?

As of September 2023, several photos have been released (1, 2) showing the Scalpel with model numbers 001 to 005. A video demonstrating the drone says the drone has been in production since October 2023. There is no information about how Vostok KB works as a supplier of manufactured products.

These drones are painted, and the inside of the drone is a different color, because it is made of wood or foam

In this photo, we can see that the inside of the drone has a different color. The drone is probably made of wood or foam. In the photo, they are placed on foam plates produced by the company “Penoplex Fondament”.

In September 2023, KB Vostok published a list of supplies for the Russian military in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, temporarily occupied by the Russians, on its channel. This listing includes a Flsun V400 3D printer, which is likely being used to print drone components, as indicated in a similar campaign for a tank battalion of the unrecognized group “DNR”.

In the Telegram channel “UAV chat”, signed by Sergey Kalutsky, director and co-founder of KB “Vostok”, in the comments under the message about the “Scalpel” drone, it was written that this drone is not an analogue of the Lancet, but an independent FPV drone with all its functions, just with wings. Also, a member of this Telegram channel, Oleksandr Marchenko, indicates that he has seen a photo of the drone in normal quality and up close, based on which he suspects that the drone is partially printed and has a regular FPV camera in the front, as well as a regular radio part with separate channels management and video channels. There are also comments (1, 2) that the drone is partially made of foamlex.

This information indicates that the scalpel may have a special design, including the use of additional materials and FPV equipment to implement its functions. This is because there is a big difference between an FPV drone and the “jamming munitions” that the drone operator is involved in, so this will help you better understand what this drone can and cannot be used for.

In August 2023, a video with tests about the “Scalpel” appeared in one of the Russian Telegram channels. Another hand-launched model was presented there. The flight range of this model is 20 km. The speed is 150 km/h, and the maximum load is up to 3 kg. This is quite different from the specifications claimed on their site.

But it seems that the manufacturers of “Scalpel” cannot decide on what functionality and appearance that drone should have.

The Scalpel drone, which was shown on Telegram channels

There was a repost of this video in the Telegram channel of CB “Vostok”. It was originally posted on the “56th Parallel” YouTube channel. Various UAVs were shown there. In particular:

If you analyze the photos of the drones, which are probably being developed by Vostok Design Bureau, you get the impression that they are fake, because:

  1. identical photos of drones developed by KB “Vostok” with other drones of companies in Russia and China;

  2. there is no information about the purchase of spare parts for the creation of drones on the basis of the “Vostok” KB;

  3. there is no evidence regarding the production capacities of KB “Vostok”;

  4. there is no information about the staff of KB “Vostok”;

  5. in the photo of the Scalpel models, there is a hole in the front of the drone, probably for installing a video camera, but there is no compartment for the camera itself, as in similar models;

  6. in this photo of the drone with the number “002” it can be seen that it is located on a single support, which is closer to the rear of the drone, which may indicate its low weight and in fact the inability to lift the load that the developers claim;

  7. in the same photo of the testing of drone “002”, we can see metal fasteners in the nose, which are not in the photos from the room.

Probably, the photo with three drones 003-005 was taken at the Sports and Technical Club “Technopark”, where Sergey Kalutskyi, co-owner of KB Vostok, teaches. The floor in the drone photo has the same tiles as the school photos. Identical furniture was also spotted.

Chinese drones disguised as Russian

It is possible that Chinese drones are hiding under the guise of these allegedly Russian “female” drones. Perhaps with the help of the East design bureau, the Russian authorities plan to legalize the Chinese dragon. They have the same pictures as those allegedly “produced” by the “East” design bureau.

On its website, KB “Vostok” added photos of the Chinese Foxtech Great Shark 330 VTOL and Skywalker X8 drones to its website. After February 24, 2022, Foxtech Hobby Co and Skywalker Technology Co started shipping to Russia. The buyer was “Atlant-Engineering” LLC, which is a supplier of construction equipment and was registered in Moscow in 2016.

In June-July 2023, Foxtech Hobby Co supplied Atlant Engineering with 500 video cameras (1, 2, 3) for FH336 aerial photography. In February 2023, Foxtech Hobby Co supplied drones to Atlant Engineering.

In July 2023, Skywalker Technology Co supplied Atlant Engineering with 1,600 sets of connectors (connector and connector), model XT60, and an unspecified number of cables with connectors. Atlant Engineering also received a supply of CUAV drones from CUAV Tech Inc. in February 2023.

The complete list of shipments of drones and drone components from China since February 2023 is shown in the table.

The Td-Atlant.pro domain was registered in March 2022. Since April 2022, the director of Atlant Engineering is Mingalimov Lenar Nuriakhmetovych, who was the founder of Vostok Credit LLC and Vostok Investment Company LLC. Vostok Investment Company LLC through its legal predecessor Media Service LLC, which is related to the liquidated Vostok Invest LLC and Vostok Stroy LLC.

It is hard not to notice the similarities between the Russian drones from KB Vostok and Chinese drones

A connection with the “Vostok” battalion from the so-called DNR was revealed. In September, Oleksandr Khodakovskyi (FB, Inst, VK, TW, OK, TG), head of the Rosguard department of the so-called DPR and commander of the “East” battalion, reported in his telegram that the first samples of drones had been delivered for testing and refinement. Khodakovsky also posted photos of drones that look similar to the claimed Scalpel drones. He noted that the product costs 17 times less than the Lancet drone. As stated in the message in the telegram, the engineering team of the “Vostok” battalion created a UAV that made 200 flights. According to a cable message in 2021, the battalion attempted to develop a copter-type UAV, but stalled due to poor resistance to electronic warfare. According to the post’s telegrams, in June 2022, Oleksandr had a meeting with Russian engineers and UAV designers.

What is KB “Vostok”?

“Vostok” is a design bureau located in Ryazan and closely related to the Russian battalion of the same name. This battalion takes part in the Russian-Ukrainian war in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. This design bureau was founded in July 2023 by Russians Sergey Kalutsky, Alexander Androsov, Ivan Yerofeev and Dmitry Klinshov. The website of the design bureau was created in May 2023 on the free Mobirise platform. On this website, the analysts found, in particular, a link to the Vostok CB Telegram channel registered on March 30, 2023, and the first posts there appeared in September 2023.

There is also a crypto-wallet in USDT (TRC20) on the website of CB Vostok: TLM3zA3EWycoDX4ZX4gKze7sgfbdkntTum – it was also created in the spring of 2023, around the same time when the site and the Telegram group were created. About $158.54 was found in this wallet as of November 2023. There is a link to the collection on the Vostok CB website. It was created by Sergey Kalutsky, who is listed as the organizer of the collection.

Despite such a dubious financial situation, KB “Vostok” plans to become a resident of the Aerospace Valley of Innovation (AKID), which opened in March 2023 in Ryazan.

On their website, they indicate that they are engaged in the production of three different drones:

  • “Scalpel” is a kamikaze drone.

  • “Dobrynya” is a vertical take-off and landing drone for the transportation of small cargo, which turned out to be a Chinese household drone.

  • “Phoenix” is a drone with an infrared camera for monitoring fires

The information is taken from open sources “Molfar”.

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