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Ukraine conflict: Russia employs Forpost-R UCAV

A screenshot from a Russian MoD video showing the Forpost-R UCAV departing for a mission over Ukraine. (Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation)

Russian forces in Ukraine have been seen fielding the Forpost-R unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) for the first time.

A video released by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Russian Federation on 13 March showed an armed Forpost-R taking off from an unidentified prepared airstrip, before the footage cut to a Ukrainian multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) being destroyed by the UCAV.

The Forpost-R is an improved and indigenised model variant of the Forpost (Outpost), which is the Israeli Searcher Mk II UAV assembled by the Yekaterinburg-based Ural Civil Aviation Plant (Ural‘skiy Zavod Grazhdanskoy Aviatsii: UZGA) since 2011 under licence using components manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). As the relations between the West and Russia soured, in 2016 Israel bowed to US pressure and informed Russia that no further component deliveries will take place. This event spurred the MoD to embark on the Forpost indigenisation programme. Apart from indigenisation, development of an attack Forpost iteration also became an objective of the endeavour. Up to that point, Forpost was used for surveillance, reconnaissance, target acquisition and designation, artillery-fire adjustment, damage assessment, and mission overwatch.

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