An Unlikely Production Line: Drones in a Bakery
In a surprising turn of events, a Russian bakery in Tambov, central Russia, has been identified as a manufacturing site for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), utilized in the ongoing conflict against Ukraine. A report by Financial Times revealed the bakery, known for producing bread, is now also creating small drones dubbed “Bekas.” Strikingly, these UAVs are assembled alongside bakery goods and even carry the scent of fresh bread, as noted by a Russian journalist.
The Basics of Bekas: Production and Capabilities
These drones, each priced at about 25,000 rubles ($281), are produced at a rate of 250 units per month using 3D printing technology. However, their combat effectiveness remains limited due to the bakery's inexperience in UAV production. The Bekas drones can transport a payload of 3.5 kilograms (7.7 pounds) over a distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles). They are more suited for anti-personnel operations compared to larger, more destructive drones like the Lancet and Shahed.
Heavy Reliance on Western Technology
Despite being manufactured in Russia, the Bekas heavily depends on foreign components, with experts noting that stickers are the only genuinely “Russian thing” in these autonomous systems. This reliance poses a challenge in enforcing sanctions, as the drone's simplistic design makes tracking the supply chain difficult. The plant's usage of Chinese-made 3D printers, whose components are often shipped separately, further complicates sanction efforts.
International Sanctions and Local Response
The United States has already imposed sanctions on the Tambov bread plant for its indirect role in the conflict. Yuriy Chicherin, the bakery director, responded to the sanctions with a sense of pride, highlighting the international recognition the factory has received, albeit for unorthodox reasons.
A Bakery's Pivotal Role in Drone Warfare
The case of the Tambov bakery underscores the unconventional means by which drone warfare technology can be produced and the complexities involved in international sanctioning efforts. The Bekas drones represent a unique intersection of everyday commerce and military endeavors, illustrating the far-reaching impacts of modern conflicts.
The featured image of this article is a screen grab from a Russian propaganda video.
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