Russia’s Vostok Design Bureau has announced plans to commence mass production of the Scalpel loitering munition, set to rival the widely used Lancet-3 in Ukraine. The Scalpel’s production is scheduled to begin this October, with deployment intended for Russia’s Northern Military District, according to a report by TASS on September 7, 2023. The Scalpel loitering munition boasts a cross-wing design that closely resembles the Lancet-3 from Zala Aero, a well-known name in the field. Currently undergoing flight tests, the Scalpel is expected to be operational in Ukraine later this year. Vostok Design Bureau has emphasized that the Scalpel’s development has been a collaborative effort, with continuous feedback and insights from operators influencing its design.
One of the key features of the Scalpel is its adaptable payload bay, which has been meticulously designed to accommodate a wide range of payloads commonly used by the Russian Army. With a diameter of 125 mm and a length of 650 mm, the munition can carry a 5 kg warhead, enabling compatibility with the 125mm smoothbore guns of Russian tanks. This adaptability not only enhances the weapon’s operational flexibility but also seamlessly integrates it with Russia’s existing industrial military capabilities. The Scalpel fits the definition of an unmanned aerial vehicle with a warhead that can linger in the target area for extended periods in standby mode, poised to swiftly execute attacks upon receiving the operator’s command as per the underlying algorithm.
Key specifications of the Scalpel loitering munition include a flight range of 40 km, a payload capacity of 5 kg, and a cruising speed of 120 km/h. This new development signifies Russia’s commitment to advancing its military capabilities while remaining mindful of cost-effectiveness. The Scalpel loitering munition is poised to offer a competitive alternative to the Lancet-3, both in terms of performance and affordability. As it enters mass production and deployment, it will undoubtedly have a significant impact on Russia’s defense capabilities, particularly in the evolving situation in Ukraine.