Russia has been combining the use of Shahed drones with cheaper and lighter domestically-produced Italmas UAVs in its attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure.
Details: Russian media suggested on 23 October that Russian forces had used new long-range Italmas drones and their variants for the first time in Ukraine during a drone attack on Kyiv Oblast.
Russian sources noted that Italmas drones are lighter than Shaheds and less easily detected and shot down. Russian military bloggers (milbloggers) pointed out that Italmas UAVs are cheaper than Shaheds, meaning they are cheaper to produce and deploy but carry less payload.
Russian sources say Russian troops are going to use Italmas drones in tandem with Shaheds.
ISW previously reported that Russia was likely trying to expand and diversify its drone, missile, and guided bomb arsenal to target Ukraine's critical infrastructure ahead of the autumn/winter season. And the use of Italmas drones is likely part of the effort to diversify its munitions.
Russian media reports indicate that the Italmas are lighter than the Gerans (as the Russians call Shaheds – ed.), run on gas and make a completely different sound, like that of a lawnmower, rendering them harder to identify and shoot down.
The code name of the UAV in production is Product 54.
Ðîñ³éñüê³ â³éñüêà ï³ä ÷àñ àòàêè íà Êè¿âñüêó îáëàñòü âïåðøå â Óêðà¿í³ çàñòîñóâàëè íîâ³ áåçï³ëîòíèêè âåëèêî¿ äàëüíîñò³ Italmas pic.twitter.com/nIR4aD8LRw— Óêðà¿íñüêà ïðàâäà ✌️ (@ukrpravda_news) October 25, 2023
Background: On 22 October, Yurii Ihnat, Ukrainian Air Force Spokesman, reported that the Russians launched the production of unidentified drones using engines from AliExpress. This UAV is an attack type; it carries several kilograms of explosives, so it poses a danger.