Russian kamikaze Shahed-136s are equipped with differential GPS

Recent information from Ukrainian sources reveals an intriguing development: newly acquired photographs of the Russian Shahed-136 drone, which appears to have been brought down. More precisely, these images offer a closer look at some elements of the Geran-2 [Shahed-136] drone’s onboard electronics. An incredibly noteworthy image showcases a hardware unit devoid of any original factory labels. Instead, etchings marked ‘DGPS’ and a series of numbers take their place. 

Confirmed: Russia uses swarming Shahed-136 loitering munition
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Based on these findings, it seems plausible that the Russians might be incorporating Differential GPS [DGPS] navigation equipment into their Shahed-136 drones. Hypothetically, this would enhance the precision with which these kamikaze drones can hit their targets. 

Delving deeper into DGPS, it stands for Differential Global Positioning System – a technology that notably enhances the precision of location determination. Interestingly, DGPS isn’t solely limited to military applications, it’s also frequently used in civil engineering structures. For instance, it aids agriculture by enabling precise tillage through farming machinery.

Attention to the block

Looking at the operational principle of DGPS in the public domain, it’s clear that it requires two receivers. One of these receivers remains stationary, positioned at a spot with precise coordinates. The other one is mobile and always in motion. Interestingly, data originating from the base receiver is used to correct data gathered by the mobile device, and this correction often takes place in real-time. 

The suspicions in Ukraine that Russians are utilizing DGPS raise some questions. If these suspicions are correct, it’s unclear why the Russians equipped a modem and a video camera on one of their Shaheds. This equipment could be used to verify the aircraft’s position at any given point. Therefore, it remains ambiguous whether the DGPS module and the camera modem are components of the same control circuit, or if they are serving as backups for each other. 

Russian kamikaze Shahed-136s are equipped with differential GPS
Photo credit: Defense Express

We should also take a look at the block labeled ADC-PLS-002, a component that hasn’t been brought into focus in earlier explorations of the Shahed-136’s electronics. This is merely conjecture at this point, but if we go by one of the block’s inscriptions, it seems it’s designed to gather data about the aircraft’s flight speed. One of the drone’s mechanisms is probably linked to the pitot tube, nestled in the Shahed-136’s wing.

About Geran-2

The Russian Geran-2 kamikaze drone, also known as a loitering munition, is a type of unmanned combat aerial vehicle [UCAV] designed for a one-time attack mission. The electronics of the Geran-2 drone are sophisticated, including a variety of sensors and communication systems. These include a high-resolution camera for target identification and tracking, a GPS system for navigation and control, and a radio communication system for remote control and data transmission. The drone also features an autopilot system, allowing it to fly pre-programmed routes or to be manually controlled by an operator on the ground. 

The Geran-2 drone is primarily made of lightweight composite materials. These materials are chosen for their strength and durability, as well as for their lightweight, which allows the drone to stay aloft for extended periods. The drone’s design is streamlined for aerodynamic efficiency, and it features a pusher propeller configuration, with the propeller located at the rear of the drone.

Russia put a GLONASS navigation module in Iranian Shahed-129
Photo credit: Twitter

How does Geran-2 work?

The operational mechanism of the Geran-2 drone involves a combination of autonomous and manual control. The drone can be launched from various platforms, including ground-based launchers or other aircraft. Once in the air, the drone can fly a pre-programmed route using its autopilot system or manually controlled by an operator on the ground. Upon identifying a target, the drone can be directed to crash into it, thereby detonating its onboard explosive charge. 

The operational range of the Geran-2 drone is reported to be around 50 kilometers. However, this can vary depending on factors such as the drone’s speed, altitude, and prevailing weather conditions. For security reasons, the amount of charge carried by the Geran-2 drone is not publicly disclosed. Nevertheless, it’s known that the drone carries a substantial explosive charge, which is sufficient to cause serious damage to a target.

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