As the so-called ‘drone war’ in Ukraine continues to escalate, evidence is mounting of Russia’s accelerating programme to manufacture Shahed-136 drones in volume at a site in Yelabuga.
The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security published a report in mid-November detailing the changes that have taken place at the JSC Alabuga site since the early part of this year. The Institute’s analysis suggests that up to 6,000 Shahed-136 – known as Geran-2 in Russia – could be manufactured at the site by 2025. The production, inspection and testing facilities have been constructed with Iranian assistance and advice, it seems. Production rates in excess of 200 drones per month are anticipated by 2024, the report suggests, with Russia starting to manufacture key components in-country from early in the year.
Although Ukraine claims its counter-UAS capabilities are adequate to the current task, the emergence of a high-volume stream of attack drones – the Shahed series renowned for swarming-type operations – will undoubtedly bring pressure to bear on frontline forces. Unmanned Airspace expects to see further innovation and problem-solving emerging from Ukrainian engineers as they prepare to resolve the impending challenge.
(Image: Russian production of Shahed-136/Geran-2 drones could top 6,000 by 2025. Credit: Institute for Science and International Security)