A Ukrainian-designed kamikaze drone with range of 1,000 kilometers has entered production and has already struck Russian targets, according to officials.

Ukraine’s State Enterprise Ukroboronprom announced at the end of 2022 that it was working on producing a long-range “one-way unmanned aerial vehicle” or kamikaze drone.

It would give the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) the ability to strike targets with a 75-kilogram warhead, out to a range of 1000 kilometers and that would be resistant to Russian electronic warfare (EW) capability.

They gave little technical detail on the project other than to say it was sourcing components from unnamed foreign suppliers but emphasized that the design, software, communication and control means, assembly and maintenance was conducted by its own domestic specialists.

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The only imagery available at the time was a photo of the drone’s nose which led commentators to speculate that it was analogous to the Iranian/Russian Shahed drone.

Nose of prototype Ukrainian long-range drone

Photo: Ukroboronprom

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The drone at the center of the Iranian-Russian axis and Tehran’s attacks on Israel has been harassing Ukrainians for nearly two years.

On June 20 this year Nataliya Sad, the press secretary of Ukroboronprom posted on her Facebook page that a successful test of the drone had been carried out.

The post included a photo of her at the trials with the AFU commander-in-chief, Valery Zaluzhny, Air Force Commander Mykola Oleschuk, and Ukroboronprom CEO Yuriy Husyev.

On Monday, Nov. 6, the Ukrainian news outlet Економічна Правда (Economic Truth) published an interview with Herman Smetanin, who became the general director of Ukroboronprom, in June, as part of a major reshuffle of Ukraine’s defense industry.

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In the interview Smetanin talked about the tasks he had been given which boiled down to ensure the enterprise started producing the weapons Ukraine needed to fight the war with Russia in the quantities required and as soon as possible.

The interviewer particularly drew attention to the need for long-range strike capability and that Smetanin’s predecessor, Yuriy Gusev, had said the long-range drone had already flown but the lack of information led people had begun to doubt its existence.

President Zelensky next to downed Shahed-136 in Kyiv, winter 2022

Photo: Office of the President of Ukraine

The answer Smetanin gave was straightforward: “It is in mass production, and has been ordered by our defense forces. The UAV has, in fact, hit its first Russian targets. The recorded combat range was around 1,000 kilometers.”

When asked if the Ukroboronprom drone was an analogue of the Iranian Shahed, he replied: “Many Ukrainian state and private manufacturers are making analogues of ‘shaheda’…  we are focused on the production of more complex and expensive projects with higher performance and longer-range.”

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A photo appeared on the Telegram site of Insider Ukraine, also on Monday which may (or may not) show the final design of Ukroboronprom’s kamikaze drone.

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