Recent reports have emerged suggesting that Russia is already using an upgraded version of the “Lancet” kamikaze drone with a sophisticated artificial intelligence-based guidance system.
The Ukrainian outlet, Defense Express, highlighted these claims. The footage in question depicted an attack on an object identified as an RM-70 Multiple Rocket Launcher on October 18th, located about 9 kilometers from the frontlines near Toretsk.
In the video, the operator initially keeps the object within a large square frame before it’s encircled by a green border, with the message “target acquired” displayed. Following this, the crosshair of the targeting reticle continues to remain fixed on the object until the strike is executed.
While the Kremlin-connected Russian Telegram channels’ claims suggest the use of the “Izdelie 53” drone from Zala (part of the Kalashnikov Concern), a review of the video footage suggests it’s more likely the “Lancet” drone with two X-shaped wings of equal length, not the “Izdelie 53.”
❗️🇷🇺🇺🇦 Czech RM-70 MLRS hit by a Russian Lancet drone with homing guidance pic.twitter.com/Vr9uKWauR6
— What the media hides. (@narrative_hole) October 21, 2023
According to Defense Express, this could indicate the deployment of a potentially mass-produced version of the “Lancet” with enhanced capabilities, achieved through software updates rather than structural changes.
The reference to “artificial intelligence” and “autonomous target identification” likely pertains to advanced image processing technology and target tracking, which indeed plays a role in the “machine learning” aspects of drone operations. However, it doesn’t imply full autonomy, as these systems still rely on operator input.
The technology essentially assists operators in the guidance and targeting process, rather than enabling complete autonomy. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that autonomous target searching and identification are features commonly associated with reconnaissance drones.
While the integration of AI and improved target tracking represents progress, the nature and extent of these developments require careful scrutiny.