Analysts doubt that the LAOP 500 drone can hit armored vehicles.
In Russia, the LAOP 500 drone is being developed as an analogue of the American Switchblade 300 kamikaze drone used by Ukrainian troops. The Eurasia Times writes about it.
Rob Lee, an analyst at the Institute for Foreign Policy Studies, posted on his Twitter page a pamphlet dedicated to the LAOP 500, which, according to him, was presented at the Army-2022 forum. According to the text, the device is being developed by the Design Bureau of NPO Androidnaya Tekhnika. A special launcher and several control options are provided for the Russian drone: sound, fixed remote control, portable remote control and a special helmet. There is also talk of “elements of artificial intelligence”.
Declared characteristics of LAOP 500
- Drone weight: 3.5 kg
- Load weight: up to 0.5 kg
- Flight time: up to 30 minutes.
- Travel speed: 90 km/h
- Maximum speed: 130 km/h
- Communication range: up to 5 km
The developers claim that the LAOP 500 can stay in the air for up to 20 minutes and hit targets at a distance of up to 5 km. The range of the Switchblade 300, manufactured by the American company AeroVironment, reaches 10 km, but the flight time is shorter – 15 minutes.
The American drone weighs 2.5 kg, including the warhead. The LAOP 500 has a slightly larger mass and can carry around 500 g of trinitrotoluene (TNT) explosives. The Switchblade 300 is designed for point-and-shoot attacks against enemy manpower or unprotected weapons such as a mortar or machine gun point. At the same time, the Russians give the LAOP 500 twice as much power and the ability to destroy heavily armored vehicles.
It’s worth noting that AeroVironment has also launched a newer, longer-range Switchblade 600 model that can track down enemies with electro-optical and infrared sensors and then attack them from up to 40km away. The drone can stay in the air for up to 40 minutes. and lift a warhead weighing about 13.6 kg to destroy large equipment and well-protected bunkers.
“This casts doubt on claims that the Russian-made LAOP 500 can hit armored targets with only 500 grams of TNT,” writes the Eursia Times.
For a long time, Switchblade drones were not particularly popular, although they had been used by the US Army for several years, including in Afghanistan. But events in Ukraine have drawn attention to scattered munitions, as the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been able to successfully deploy kamikaze drones against various Russian targets. In addition to the Switchblade 300, the Americans have promised ten Switchblade 600s, but it is not yet known when they will arrive.
Earlier, they wrote about how the Armed Forces of Ukraine used Switchblade 300 UAVs against Russian troops. According to the military, kamikaze drones make it possible to destroy targets that artillery cannot reach. The camera, with the help of the Ukrainian army, managed to capture how it hit the border guards, the crew of the tank, the technical observation point.
Recently, experts talked about how the Switchblade 600 UAV will help Ukraine liberate Kherson and Crimea. Until now, such drones are produced only in small quantities, so Ukrainians will receive only 10 pieces.