Drones repeat themselves, first as scouts and later as weapons. While not all drones have made the transition from surveillance platform to armed agent, everything from the Predator to simple toy quadcopters have found new utility when armament is added to a traditional sensor package.
So, too, it will be for Russia’s Korsar surveillance drone, which debuted an armed variant as part of the annual victory parade in Moscow. Only here, the armament won’t be the traditional payload of explosives. Instead, the Korsar is adding an electronics weapons suite.
From Russia’s TASS:
“In the future, the system may be equipped with drones with improved characteristics and additional functions. In particular, there are plans to increase the operational range to 250 km and also equip the drones with electronic warfare systems and advanced reconnaissance means,” [Korsar maker Rostec] corporation said.
The function of that electronics weapons system will likely remain unknown until observed in the field or revealed by Rostec. Unlike missiles and bombs, which can be spotted on wings and then identified from remains afterwards, deciphering electronic weapons is a trickier proposition, relying on inferring antennas from the shape of pods and then reading intent into whatever sensors end up disrupted.
If the system is counter-drone, Korsar wouldn’t be the first uninhabited aerial vehicle built for that purpose, though on a list of 235 counter-drone systems, only two can plausibly be considered electronic warfare weapons mounted on drones. That said, we’ve seen new electronic warfare systems fielded by Russian-aligned forces in Ukraine, and according to Russian defense officials the nation secretly tested a robotic tanklet in Syria. Should the Korsar be spotted in battle, it will join a growing list of drones modified for combat to first see action in support of Russia’s irregular wars.