How Russians Manufacture “Shaheds” and “Lancets” in Shopping Malls: Exposing the Family of the Chief Constructor

This UAV is labelled as “essential” and “deadly” in Russian news coverage. They say its strikes are “surgically precise,” and it is “invisible” on radars. This is the “Lancet” drone, heavily advertised by Russian propagandists. Although its characteristics are not unique, this drone is indeed dangerous. It’s likely that the Russians “borrowed” some engineering solutions, particularly from an Israeli company.

This article results from an investigation by Molfar analysts into the “Lancet” drones. In this publication, we will look at the leading manufacturers, company owners, and the locations where UAV production occurs. We discovered that the son of the ideologue of the Russian drone industry works at the UN in the Institute of Disarmament. The constructor’s son-in-law was declared bankrupt but acquired a house in Spain. We will also talk about the connections between the production of Russian “Shaheds” and “Lancets.”

An overview of the “Lancet” UAV

The first reports about the “Lancet” appeared in 2019. By 2021, Russian propagandist television was showing videos discussing the use of the “Lancet” drone in Syria.

The “Lancet” is built on an aerodynamic scheme similar to that used in some devices of the Israeli company UVision. This was reported in the media in 2021. 

The Lancet-1 is a compact drone capable of operating for up to 30 minutes and can carry a payload of 1 kg. It can fly distances up to 40 km. The Lancet-3, in turn, is a more powerful version of its predecessor — capable of staying in the air for up to 1 hour, carrying a payload of up to 5 kg. Its flight range varies from 40 to 70 km, with a maximum speed of up to 300 km/h.

However, the “Lancet” also has its weaknesses. The Russians themselves note its limited range and low endurance. This means that it is not suitable for specific war scenarios. Also, the “Lancet” can carry only a small number of explosives, limiting its strike capabilities. Like most drones, the “Lancet” can be vulnerable to electronic warfare systems that affect its navigation and communications.

Who make “Lancet” drones in Russia?

The Izhevsk-based company Zala Aero Group, also known as LLC “CST” (ООО “ЦСТ”), is a critical player in the Russian market for uncrewed aerial vehicles. They are the ones who manufacture and test the “Lancets.” Since 2015, Zala has become part of a large arms manufacturer — “Kalashnikov Group of Companies” (“Группа компаний Калашников”).

Products on the Zala Aero Group Company — screenshot from the website

49% of Zala Aero Group is owned by JSC “Kalashnikov Concern” (АО “Концерн Калашников”). This enterprise also has representations in Moscow and Nizhnevartovsk (Tyumen Region).

The leading suppliers for LLC “CST” (ООО “ЦСТ”) are the following enterprises:

  1. LLC “Aeroscan” (ООО “Аэроскан”),
  2. LLC “NTC ‘Orion'” (ООО “НТЦ ‘Орион'”),
  3. LLC “OMP” (ООО “ОМП”),
  4. LLC “Hartis DV” (ООО “Хартис ДВ”),
  5. LLC “ID Solution” (ООО “АйДи Союшн”),
  6. LLC “Spel” (ООО “Спэл”).

Furthermore, from February 2022 to August 2023, 70 countries were identified through which parts were supplied to “CST.”

During the investigation, Molfar analysts identified 58 

“Zala Aero Group” employees. You can view the complete list by following the link.

As of 2016-2017, the Zala Aero has located its production in Izhevsk city at 40 Years of Victory Street 118. After 2016, when Zala Aero became part of the “Kalashnikov” concern, the management decided to build a new plant on the existing capacities of the concern in Izhevsk, where there are already two factories:

  1. Deryabin Passage 3B (location of the concern itself)
  2. Promyshlennaya Street 8/3 (“Izhevsk Mechanical Plant”)

How Russian shopping malls turns to drone factories 

After February 24, 2022, sanctions were imposed on Russia. Western brands began to exit the market of the terrorist state massively. Russian shopping and entertainment centers rapidly fell into desolation. However, the Russians figured out how to repurpose them for the needs of their aggressive war.

On August 24, 2022, behind closed doors at Zala Aero Group, Alexander Zakharov presented a plan: to transform shopping centers, once filled with Western brands, into production lines for UAVs. He says three such shopping centers have already been successfully adapted for drone manufacturing.

As of July 2023, several shopping centers’ storage and technical facilities have been adapted to assemble drones. Zakharov, commenting on potential risks associated with possible attacks on such places, noted that “there is no need to worry” (12):

Interestingly, in August 2023, the article “The Destruction of Shopping Centers and Cultural Houses Will Not Significantly Affect the Production of ‘Lancets,'” which appeared in July, was later removed from the news portal “Ves Bor“. This could indicate attempts to conceal information or change the public narrative.

The transformation of “Italmas” mall into a “scientific research center”

The Russians do not hide that they are transforming their shopping malls into military factories. According to an article from August 2023, Alexander Zakharov, the chief designer of Zala Aero Group, openly declared the conversion of a former mall, which ceased operations due to the pandemic, into production workshops for “Lancets.” This is likely referring to the “Italmas” shopping mall (“Италмас”). Its area is about 50,000 square meters. Training classes have also been set up in this shopping center.

Satellite Image of “Italmas” Shopping Mall, 04/2023

The “Italmas” shopping mall is noteworthy because a VK publication indicated that the hotel located on its premises ceased operations on 31.08.2023. In a July 2023 report by the channel “Russia 1”, one can see the same Alexander Zakharov touring the shopping center premises, which have been converted for production. The faces of all enterprise employees were obscured in this segment. 

Italmas shopping mall layouts of closed stores
Layouts of closed stores — with labels and highlighted 

Although those stores are closed, Molfar analysts detected activity by analyzing mobile phone data. Interestingly, one of the phones was identified as being on the territory of the special economic zone “Alabuga” on 11.06.2023, in the industrial premises of the fibreglass manufacturer LLC “P-D Tatneft-Alabuga Steklovolokno.” This indicates that a person who visited the area where “Shaheds” are manufactured also visited this shopping centre, suggesting a possible connection. More details on this will be discussed later.

Proof of the transformation of shopping malls for drone manufacturing

On the website of the program “Vesti Nedeli” of the channel “Russia1”, there is a report dated 16.07.2023 about the production of UAVs “Lancet.” The video shows the premises of drone production and an interview with the chief designer, Zakharov. The report notes that the production is located in one of the shopping centers, which closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and from which, due to the imposed sanctions, stores of world brands were left.

Zakharov says that the shopping mall’s premises are convenient for organizing production because they are equipped with ventilation, air conditioning, fire protection, and more. According to the report, Zakharov uses a Segway to move around the production. The video captures machinery and training classrooms, which Zakharov passes by, and distinctive features that allow to identify the location of UAV production as the “Italmas” mall building. In September 2023, the sign “Italmas Shopping Mall” was replaced with “Italmas Research and Development Center” (“Научно-исследовательский центр ‘Италмас'”), as Putin was visiting there.

In previous materials, we have thoroughly examined the mechanism of searching for locations. Similar mechanisms were used to search for the place of the “Italmas” shopping center. We recommend reviewing our previous material at this link.

Importantly, not only the “Italmas” shopping mall has been converted by the Russians into a weapon manufacturing plant.

More shopping malls transformed into UAV Factories. We have proffs

Molfar analysts identified 5 shopping centers that Russians repurposed for UAV production. And 4 of them are located in the city of Izhevsk. The Russian media only mentioned 3 such enterprises.

NameAddressFirst MentionUAVComment
Italmas Shopping CenterIzhevsk, Avtozavodskaya Street 2a12.2022LancetAt the end of January 2023, all tenants were evicted. The shopping center is used for assembling UAV components. Photos show ‘Lancets’; the last tenant, a bath complex, signed a contract to leave the shopping mall by 30.09.23
“Stolica” Shopping and Entertainment ComplexIzhevsk, Avtozavodskaya Street, 3a9.2023Lancet, Italmas (new UAV) Repurposing began in September. As of September 22, 2023, it is operational.The “Activo” fund owns the building, 99.99% of which belongs to its director Yegor Yuryevich Klimenko (Егор Юрьевич Клименко)  (18.03.1981, TIN: 770406607551, FB, +79856436707, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]).  According to an article from September 2023, the shopping and entertainment complex was acquired by LLC “Aeroscan” (ООО “Аэроскан”). Entrepreneurs received notices about terminating lease agreements starting from October 15, 2023. 
Novyi Dom Shopping CenterKaluga, 1st Academic Avenue, 52.2023Lancet (presumably)Restoration work is carried out by JSC “Kaluga Mortgage Corporation.” The building was purchased for 565 million rubles. The estimated reconstruction cost is ~1 billion rubles.
Novyi Dom Shopping CenterIzhevsk, Ordzhonikidze Street, 22016Granat-4On 17.05.23, the Telegram channel “Izhevsky Venik” posted about the mall’s repurposing. The new owner – “Izhevsk Unmanned Systems,” is part of the Kalashnikov Concern. The address has stayed the same since 2016.
Shopping CenterIzhevsk, Melnichnaya 34Zala, SupercamThe territory of former mall warehouses, according to photos. Manufacture UAVs are part of the ‘Kalashnikov’ concern, with some posts indicating that the ZALA 421-16E and S350′ SuperСam’ UAVs are the same.

Connections with other russian companies and their financial growth since the Full-Scale Invasion beginning

LLC “Aeroscan” (ООО “Аэроскан”)

An operator and manufacturer of UAVs from Moscow, providing aerial photography, thermal imaging monitoring, and laser scanning services. Has a representation in Izhevsk.

Financial Growth Indicator:

$, m20212022
Revenue0.852.1
Net Profit (loss)0.023.08

LLC “NTC ‘Orion'” (ООО “НТЦ ‘Орион'”)

software developer in artificial intelligence, neural networks, and machine learning from Moscow. He was declared bankrupt as of 23.05.2023. The owner is the daughter of Alexander Zakharov — Zakharova (Osetrova) Maria Alexandrovna. The profit of LLC “NTC ‘Orion'” for 2022 amounted to 400 million rubles.

Financial Growth Indicator:

$, m20212022
Revenue3.56.7
Net Profit (loss)0.7-0.8 

LLC “OMP” (ООО “ОМП”)

In 2022–2023, the Novosibirsk company “OMP” sold goods worth 1.4 billion rubles to “CST” and imported goods into the territory of Russia valued at 1.3 billion rubles. “OMP” also purchased electric motors, aluminum products, screws, bolts, and nuts from China.

Financial Growth Indicator

$, m20212022
Revenue4.535.2
Net Profit (loss)0.042.3

LLC “Hartis DV” (ООО “Хартис ДВ”)

A retail seller of radio-electronic equipment and components from Moscow.

In May 2022, they published news on their website: “We are expanding our list of partners in China and establishing new logistical chains in consideration of the changed rules of the game.”

$, m20212022
Revenue0.21.4
Net Profit (loss)0.010.01

LLC “ID Solution” (ООО “АйДи Солюшн”)

developer and supplier of software, boards, computers, and peripherals. In 2022-2023, Moscow-based “ID Solution” sold “ЦСТ” goods worth 60.4 million rubles.

Financial Growth Indicator:

$, m20212022
Revenue2.64.5
Net Profit (loss)0.30.5

An Uzbek company involved in parallel imports (123) for LLC “ID Solution” (ООО “АйДи Солюшн”). In an article from August 2023, it is mentioned that Mvizion supplied goods to “ID Solution” worth 150 million rubles, including components from the American company Nvidia, which are used in the composition of the UAV “Ланцет” (Lancet).

The contact phone number listed is +998946170585, belonging to Valeriy Paku (Валерию Паку) (born on March 24, 1973, VKOKFB) from Tashkent.

Mvizion received 37 shipments (1, 2) from various supplier countries, including Taiwan, the Philippines, Argentina, China, Turkey, Costa Rica, and Japan, from August 2022 to June 2023. The invoices specified Nvidia Jetson processor modules, meson modules for communication interfaces, and transistors.

LLC “Spel” (ООО “Спэл”)

Supplier of electronic components.

Financial Growth Indicator:

$, m20212022
Revenue2.96.8
Net Profit (loss)0.090.8

What connection do the productions of “Lancet” drones and “Shahed” have with each other?

During the investigation, Molfar analysts  identified 58 individuals involved in developing and producing “Shaheds.” Special attention is drawn to the procurement of specific aviation fuel for the engines of these UAVs, which was mentioned in the tender documentation dated August 01, 2023. This underscores the high-tech nature of the production on extensive industrial premises covering 59,179 square meters (objects 8.1 and 8.2). The equipment used in manufacturing “Shaheds” is also significant. The presence of the American manufacturer Allied Mineral Products in Alabuga and regular parts supplies to this region plays a crucial role in supporting the production process, highlighting international cooperation and the importance of this production direction.

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the company “Allied Mineral Products Ru has, according to 52.wmb, imported 13 tons of products (402 transactions), some of which may be used in the production of UAVs.

Exporting CompanyTransaction DateProductCountry of OriginPossible Use
Allied Mineral Products Tianjin Co Ltd (China)20.02.2023;09.03.2023;24.03.2023;03.04.2023;23.05.2023;23.06.2023;12.07.2023;31.07.2023Plates, sheets, and strips of agglomerated or reconstituted mica, with or without backingUnited Kingdom Mica can produce engines, generators, transformers, capacitors, and resistors..
31.08.2022;03.11.202201.12.2022;10.03.2023;23.06.2023;28.07.2023;31.07.2023 MulliteChina The substrate material made of mullite ceramic has low dielectric permeability, a low coefficient of thermal expansion, and good strength, making it suitable for use in high-speed microelectronics. 
Allied Mineral Products (USA)07.06.2022MulliteUSAIt can be used in the production of high-speed microelectronics.
Mineral Manufacturing (USA)07.07.2022MulliteUSAIt can be used in the production of high-speed microelectronics.
Mirena Mineralien Erz (Germany)20.04.2022MulliteGermanyIt can be used in the production of high-speed microelectronics.
Minera GMBH11.05.2022MulliteGermanyIt can be used in the production of high-speed microelectronics.
Allied Mineral Products Europe B.V. (Netherlands)07.07.2022;04.08.202218.10.2022;08.11.2022;04.08.2023Sheets made of agglomerated or reconstructed mica.United KingdomMica can produce engines, generators, transformers, capacitors, and resistors.
11.08.2022;08.12.2022;08.12.2022;05.04.2023;25.04.2023;06.07.2023MulliteUSAIt can be used in the production of high-speed microelectronics microchips.  
Dexiang Limited (China)20.05.2022;21.07.2022;29.08.2022;29.09.2022;22.12.2022;25.01.2023;17.03.2023;19.04.2023;19.06.2023MulliteChinaIt can be used in the production of high-speed microelectronics microchips.

This table presents the deliveries of the company “Allied Mineral Products Rus” after the start of the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation. We also have detailed information on numerous recent deliveries conducted by the company.

Previously, we published a study on the employees of “Alabuga,” where it is likely that they are assembling new “Shaheds” for the Russian military. Equipment necessary for the production of “Shaheds” is being delivered there. Additionally, there is no information about the presence of the American manufacturer Allied Mineral Products in “Alabuga.”

The company “Unmanned Systems,” part of the “Kalashnikov Concern,” specializes in the production of uncrewed aerial vehicles called “SuperCam.” This drone is designed for surveillance and is produced in Izhevsk, on the territory of a former shopping and entertainment center at 34A Melnychna Street. Furthermore, “Zala Aero Group” (LLC “CST”), which produces “Lancets,” also belongs to the “Kalashnikov Concern.”

According to an article from July 2023, SuperCam was mentioned as one of the potential organizers of the assembly of “Shahed” drones. The production of SuperCam UAVs is likely associated with the Special Economic Zone “Alabuga.” The same smartphone has been detected in both locations.

As mentioned earlier in the publication, after June 2023, a gadget related to the production site of SuperCam drones was also detected in the “Italmas” shopping and entertainment center territory. Several “transfers” of the gadget owner between workshops have been recorded since the beginning of 2023.

How many units of “Lancets” are manufactured in Russia?

According to the marks on Yandex Maps and 2gis, at the address of Izhevsk city, Kholmogorova Street, 27a, there is an office of Zala Aero, where office premises are located. However, in 2016, the company started the construction of a plant for UAVs on the territory of one of Kalashnikov Concern’s enterprises. In Izhevsk, there are two plants of the Kalashnikov Concern located at the following addresses: Deryabina Avenue, 3B (the primary concern) and Promyslova Street, 8/3 (Izhevsk Mechanical Plant). In 2017, at the address Izhevsk, 40 Let Pobedy, 118, a billboard was placed (12), which depicted “Kalashnikov Concern” and Zala Aero. Before that, in 2016, there was a sign with Zala Aero, but the concern was not mentioned because the company became part of the concern after 2016.

“Zagorsky Optical-Mechanical Plant” (“Zagorsky optiko-mekhanicheskiy zavod”)

Manufacturer of optical and optoelectronics devices, including those for the Russian Ministry of Defense (1, 2).

In August 2023, an explosion occurred at the plant – 4 buildings were utterly destroyed, 6 were partially destroyed, and 14 were damaged. It is likely that components for “Lancets” were being produced in one of the plant’s workshops. Since 2019, this plant has been developing a strategic bomber-missile carrier called “Poslannik.”

Possible territory of the plant satellite image
Possible territory of the plant (satellite image, August 2022)

Production volume of “Lancets.” According to an article by UNIAN, in 2022-2023, Zala Aero Group purchased UAVs for a total of 5.3 billion rubles. Yandex Zen blogs mention that the cost of one “Lancet” as of August 2023 is approximately 3 million rubles. This means that from January 2022 to June 2023, around 1700 UAVs were acquired, almost 94 UAVs per month. However, Zala Aero Group likely placed pre-orders for UAVs, which will be delivered as they become available. The article also does not specify the exact types of drones ordered from Zara Aero Group. According to Oleksiy Hromov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, in an interview with Ukrinform, as of June 2023, 900 Lancets had been manufactured. Their production started in 2019.

The father is a weapons manufacturer, and the son works at the Disarmament Institute: revealing the identity of the Zakharov family

Alexander Viacheslavovich Zakharov (Александр Вьячeславович Захаров) — co-founder of CST LLC, chief constructor

Date of Birth: 21.09.1965

Social MediaОК (Odnoklassniki)

Phone: +79127406508

Email: [email protected]

Tax Identification Number (TIN): 183111242406

Passport: 9403386022, 9411216213, V-НИ738792

Alexander Zakharov is a co-owner of LLC “CST” (ЦСТ) with a 51% ownership share. Between 2000 and 2010, he was also a co-owner, along with AO “Geomir” (Геомир), of Closed JSC “Безпілотні системи” (Unmanned Systems), which was liquidated in March 2010. Additionally, in AO “Гєомір,” there was co-ownership by PAT “Альбатрос” (Albatross) with a 19.6% stake, which is involved in the assembly of UAVs “Shahed” in the SEZ “Алабуга” (Alabuga), as well as UAVs “Альбатрос М5” (Albatross M5).

Also, read more: 43 employees of “Shahed” production in Alabuga: Molfar publishing the deanon

Alexandra Zakharova — the wife

18.03.1964 

Social MediaOK

Emails: [email protected], [email protected]

TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number): 183111242572

Passports: 9403386023, 9409004910

Svetlana was an employee of “ЦСТ” in 2021. It is known that she owns a house in the United Kingdom at Marsham Street, London SW1P 3DS, valued at $1.5 million, which she purchased in May 2023.

Laurentiy Zakharov — the son

LiFBVK, Skype: Lavrenty

Currently works at UNIDIR – United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research.

Maria Zakharova (Osetrova) — the daughter, owner of LLC “NTC Orion”

07.01.1988

Social MediaVK Li

Email: [email protected]

Phone: +79128539003, +79068973596

TIN (Individual Taxpayer Number): 183116181362

Passport: 9411231220

The Zakharovs’ daughter, Maria, also owns legal entities: LLC “Interkom” (since 2020 – a debtor), LLC “Doris” (in July 2023, it was put into forced liquidation due to false data).

Dmitriy Osetrov (Дмитрий Осетров) (June 22, 1981, VK, +79128566040, [email protected], [email protected], TIN 183106265366, passport 9402633575) is Maria’s husband. In May 2023, he was declared bankrupt and accused of unjust enrichment. The legal proceedings began in 2020. It is likely that in 2013, Dmitriy Osetrov purchased a house in Spain, as his address is listed in the merged database of residents of Malaga, at CC Marina Banus (Marbella) W, Lora Playa. In 2016, Dmitriy served as the CEO of “Zala Aero,” after which his position was taken by a representative of the “Kalashnikov” concern.

Nikita Zakharov (Никита Захаров) is the son and owner of LLC “Aeroscan.”

Born on October 27, 1986.

Social MediaVK

Email: [email protected], [email protected]

Phone: +79855407740

TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number): 184101937739

Passport: 9412282330

Nikita is a co-owner of two companies, LLC “Emergency Digital Solutions” (ООО “Эмердженси диджитал солюшенс”) (information is unverified in the registry as of 2023) and LLC “RTK” (ООО “РТК”), registered in March 2022. Both companies are engaged in software development, trade in various spare parts and equipment, and can conduct tests and manufacture UAVs.

The presence of the “Lancet” drone in the Russian army’s arsenal, as well as the fact that occupiers are converting shopping centers into drone manufacturing facilities, indicates a strategic rethinking of the use of unmanned technologies in combat operations and long-term plans. The connection between Russian UAV productions “Shahed” and “Lancet” may involve personal or informal relationships and suggest cooperation and technology exchange.

Furthermore, aside from its deadly purpose, which Russians are ready to use against Ukrainians at any moment, the production of such drones for Russia is purely a business endeavor. This can also be observed in the context of the Zakharov family, who hold key leadership positions in these companies and establish new logistical chains, considering changes in the game’s rules.

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