How Russia creates “Shakhed” and “Lancet” in shopping centers, deanon of the chief designer of drones

8 December 2023 11 minutes Author: Cyber Witcher

Secrets of Russian production

In this article, we reveal the secrets of the Russian production of Lancet and Shahed drones. These UAVs, which Russian propagandists call ‘key’ and ‘lethal’, become the subject of in-depth analysis in this article. Despite the fact that the characteristics of the “Lancet” are not unique, its influence and potential in military operations are significant, and some engineering solutions are probably “borrowed” from other countries. This article reveals the key players behind the scenes of Russian UAV production, including the company owners and locations where production takes place. Of particular note is the connection between the chief designer’s family and their work and assets abroad, including his son’s work at the UN disarmament institute and his son-in-law’s purchase of a house in Spain despite personal bankruptcy.

This analysis reveals not only the technical aspects of drones, but also a deeper look at the relationships and financial transactions that support the production of these drones. This article is an indispensable resource for understanding the complex web of the Russian defense industry and its impact on modern conflicts. In this article, you will find a comprehensive study by Molfar analysts on the Russian-made Lancet and Shahed drones. You will get to know the main manufacturers, company owners and locations where these UAVs are manufactured. It also examines the connections between key figures in the drone industry, including the work of relatives of influential figures in international organizations and their financial dealings. The article provides in-depth analysis and insights into the production and political context surrounding these drones.

What is Lancet UAV?

In their news, the Russians call this drone “key” and “deadly”. They say his kicks are “surgically precise” and he’s “invisible” on radar. This is a lancet drone advertised by Russian propagandists. Its characteristics are not unique, but this drone is really dangerous. Perhaps the Russians “borrowed” some engineering solutions, especially from an Israeli company. This article is the result of research by Molfar analysts at The Lancet drone. In this post, we’ll take a look at the major manufacturers, company owners, and locations where drone manufacturing takes place. We learned that the son of the ideologue of the Russian drone industry works at the UN at the Institute for Disarmament Studies. And the designer’s son-in-law was declared bankrupt, but at the same time he bought a house in Spain. We will also talk about the connection between the production of “Shakhedov” and “lancets” in Russia.

The first reports about the Lancet appeared in 2019, and already in 2021, a video was shown on Russian propaganda television that talked about the use of the Lancet drone in Syria. Lancet” is built according to an aerodynamic scheme similar to that used in some of the devices of the Israeli company UVision. It was written about in the media in 2021.

Russian unmanned aerial vehicle Lancet-1

Lancet-1 is a compact drone that can operate for up to 30 minutes and can carry a payload of 1 kg. It can fly a distance of up to 40 km. Lancet-3, in turn, is a more powerful version of the previous one — it can stay in the air for up to 1 hour, carries a load weighing up to 5 kg. The flight range varies from 40 to 70 km. The maximum speed is up to 300 km/h.

However, “Lancet” also has its weaknesses. The Russians themselves note its limited range and low endurance. It turns out that it is not suitable for some war scenarios. Also, “Lancet” can pick up a small amount of explosives, which limits its impact capabilities. Like most drones, the Lancet can be vulnerable to EW tools that affect its navigation and communications.

Who in Russia makes Lancet drones?

The Izhevsk-based company Zala Aero Group (“Zala Aero Group”), known as “TSST” LLC, is a key player in the Russian market of unmanned aerial vehicles. It is they who produce and test “Lancets”. Since 2015, Zala has become part of a large arms manufacturer — the “Kalashnikov Group of Companies” (“Kalashnikov Group of Companies”).

Products on the website of the company Zala Aero Group — screenshot from the website

49% of Zala Aero Group is owned by Kalashnikov Concern JSC (Kalashnikov Concern JSC). This company also has representative offices in Moscow and Nizhnevartsk (Tyumen region).

The following enterprises are the main suppliers for LLC “TSST” (LLC “TSST”):

  1. Aeroscan” LLC (“Aeroscan” LLC),

  2. LLC “STC “Orion” (LLC “STC “Orion”)

  3. LLC “OMP” (OOO “OMP”).

  4. LLC “Hartis DV” (LLC “Hartis DV”)

  5. ID Solution” LLC (ID Soyushn LLC)

  6. Spel” LLC (“Spel” LLC)

Moreover, from February 2022 to August 2023, 70 countries were identified through which details were sent to the “TsST”.

Countries through which Russia receives spare parts for its UAVs

In the course of the investigation, Molfar analysts identified a total of 58 employees of the “Zala Aero Group” company. You can read the full list by calling.

As of 2016-2017, the company Zala Aero located its own production in the city of Izhevsk, at the address: str. 40 years of victory 118. After 2016, when Zala Aero became part of the Kalashnikov concern, the management decided to build a new plant on the existing facilities of the concern in Izhevsk, where there are already two plants:

  • passage named after Deryabina, 3B (the concern itself is located)

  • St. Promyslova 8/3 (“Izhevsk Mechanical Plant”)

How are Russia’s malls turning into drone factories?

After 2/24/2022, sanctions were imposed on Russia. Western brands are starting to destroy the national terrorist market together. Shopping and entertainment centers in Russia quickly fell into disrepair. But the Russians figured out how to rebuild them to meet their needs in an aggressive war.

On August 24, 2022, behind closed doors at Zala Aero Group, Alexander Zakharov presented the following plan: to turn shopping centers that were once full of Western brands into production lines for UAVs. According to him, three such shopping centers have already been successfully adapted to the needs of the production of drones.

As of July 2023, the warehouse and technical facilities of a number of shopping malls have been adapted for the assembly of drones. Zakharov, commenting on the potential risks associated with a possible attack on such places, noted that “there is no need to worry”:

It is interesting that in August 2023, an article entitled “Destruction of Shopping Malls and Shopping Centers will not significantly affect the production of Lancets”, which appeared in July, was later removed from the “Ves Bor” news portal. This may indicate attempts to withhold information or change the public narrative.

Transformation of the shopping center “Italmas” into a “research center”

The Russians do not hide the fact of turning their own shopping centers into military factories. According to an August 2023 article, Aleksandra Zakharov, the chief designer of Zala Aero Group, openly announced the conversion of the former shopping center, which ceased operations due to the pandemic, into production workshops for the Lancets. It is probably about the “Italmas” shopping center (“Italmas”). Its area is about 50 thousand m2. Training classes are also located in this mall.

Satellite image of the shopping center “Italmas”, 04’2023

Italmas shopping center is interesting because of a publication in VK, which indicates that the hotel located on its territory has ceased operations until 08/31/2023. And in the report of the “Russia 1” channel for July 2023, you can see the same Zakharov walking around the premises of the shopping center, converted for production. All the faces of the company’s employees were hidden in this story.

Scheme of premises of closed shops

But despite the closure of these stores, Molfar analysts analyze data from mobile phones and record activity there. It is interesting that in 2023/6/11 one of the phones was identified, which is also located in the territory of the special economic zone “Alabuga”, located in the production premises of the fiberglass producer “Tatneft-Alabuga fiberglass” LLC.1 i.e. people who visited the area , where “shahedis” are produced, also visited this trade center, which may indicate a connection. This will be explained in more detail later.

Докази переобладнання ТРЦ під виробництво БпЛА

On the website of the “Vesty Nedely” program of the “Россия1” TV channel, there is a report from 07/16/2023 about the production of the Lancet UAV. The video shows the drone production facility, as well as an interview with chief designer Zakharov. The report notes that the production is located in one of the malls that was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and from which, as a result of the imposed sanctions, stores of world brands left.

Zakharov says that the premises of the shopping center are convenient for the organization of production, because they are already equipped with ventilation, air conditioning, fire protection, etc. According to the report, Zakharov uses a Segway to move around the factory. The video captured machines and classrooms that Zakharov drove past, as well as characteristic signs, according to which the location of the UAV production can be identified as the building of the “Italmas” shopping center. In September 2023, the sign “Italmas Shopping Center” was replaced with “Italmas Scientific Research Center” (“Italmas Scientific Research Center”), because Putin was visiting there.

In previous materials, we considered the location search mechanism in detail. Similar mechanisms were used in the search for the location of the “Italmas” shopping center.

What is the connection between the production of drones “Lancet” and Shaheda”?

During the investigation, Molfar analysts identified 58 people working on the development and production of Shaheds. Particular attention is drawn to the fact of the purchase of specific aviation fuel for the engines of these UAVs, which was mentioned in the tender documentation for 08/01/2023. This emphasizes the high-tech nature of production, which unfolds on large production areas of 59,179 m² (objects 8.1 and 8.2). The equipment used in the production of “shaheed” is also important. The presence of the American manufacturer Allied Mineral Products in Alabuz and the regular supply of spare parts to this region also play a key role in supporting the production process, which demonstrates international cooperation and the importance of this production line.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine, the company Allied Mineral Products Rus, according to 52.wmb, has imported 13 tons of products (402 transactions), part of which can be used for the production of UAVs.

How many Lancets does Russia produce?

According to the markings in Yandex.maps and 2gis, at the address Izhevsk, str. The office of Zala Aero is located at 27a Kholmogorova, where there are office premises. At the same time, in 2016 the company started its own construction of a plant for UAVs on the territory of one of the Kalashnikov concerns. In Izhevsk there are 2 plants of the Kalashnikov concern at the following addresses: Deryabina, 3B (the concern itself) and st. Promyslova 8/3 (Izhevsk Mechanical Plant). At the same time, in 2017 at the address Izhevsk, st. 40 years of Victory 118, there is a billboard (1, 2) depicting “Kalashnikov Concern” and Zala Aero, before that, in 2016, there was a sign with Zala Aero, but without mentioning the concern, since the company joined the concern after 2016.

“Zagorsky Opto-Mechanical Plant” (“Zagorsky Opto-Mechanical Plant”) Manufacturer of optical and opto-electric devices, including for the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

In August 2023, there was an explosion at the factory – 4 buildings were destroyed, 6 were partially destroyed and 14 were damaged. It is likely that components for “Lancets” were produced at one of the plant’s workshops. Since 2019, this plant has been involved in the development of a strategic bomber-missile carrier called “Envoy”.

Probable territory of the plant (satellite image, 08’2022)

The volume of production of “Lancets”. According to an article published by UNIAN, for 2022-2023, Zala Aero Group bought UAVs worth 5.3 billion rubles. On Yandex-zen blogs, they write that the cost of one Lancet as of August 2023 is ~3m rubles. It turns out that from January 2022 to June 2023, ~1700 were purchased, that is, almost 94 BpLA per month. However, it is likely that Zala Aero Group has pre-ordered UAVs and will deliver them at the pace of readiness. Also, the article does not specify which type of drones were ordered from Zara Aero Group. And according to the statement of Oleksiy Gromov, head of the Main Operational Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, in an interview for Ukrinform, as of June 2023, 900 lancets had been manufactured. At the same time, their production began in 2019.

The information is taken from Molfar open sources

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