On July 16, 2023, Russia-1 TV aired a report about the capabilities, history, and production of the ZALA Lancet kamikaze drones. According to the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the report features interviews with ZALA’s chief designer, Alexander Zakharov, an interview with a Lancet drone operator, footage of Lancet drone strikes in Ukraine, and footage of the Lancet production process. According to the report, the production of Lancets has increased by as much as 50 times since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, and there are enough Lancet units to target every NATO tank in Ukraine.
The report explains that there are two types of Lancet drones (dubbed “Item 51” and “Item 52”), which vary in payload and range. It unveils the next generation of Lancet drones (dubbed “Item 53”), which are portable, can be launched in swarms, can operate as a neural network, and have intelligent targeting systems that prioritize high-value equipment such as radars and armored vehicles. Additionally, the report explains how Lancets are deployed alongside a reconnaissance drone that transmits target coordinates to it. It also shows the Lancet production facility, which was supposedly built in an abandoned shopping center without any government funding. Zakharov explained that Russian special forces units used ZALA drones in Syria, providing the company with valuable experience. He also stated that Lancets cannot be jammed by NATO’s electronic warfare equipment.
In the Russian TV report, Alexander Zakharov said that Lancet is the drone’s nickname, and it has already caught on. “Everyone understands that a Lancet is a surgical tool. But there are two models. They differ in range and in the power of the warhead. But these are two different models [known as] ‘Item 51’ and ‘Item 52.”
According to the report, the Russian company is making a huge effort to meet the high demand. The company’s officials said that one option is to repurpose abandoned shopping centers from Western companies like IKEA and Decathlon and urgently set up drone assembly lines there.