The UJ-26 Beaver, is a Ukrainian kamikaze drone, which began development in 2022.

Recent reports from Ukrainian media reveal a significant increase in the country’s defense production capacity. A notable achievement in this expansion was the large-scale production of the new UJ-26 Beaver, a long-range loitering munition also known as a kamikaze drone, which is believed to have struck the Moscow area twice.

The UJ-26 Beaver, is a Ukrainian kamikaze drone, which began development in 2022. Fundraising for the creation of the Beaver drones was initiated on Twitter in December upon the request of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) under the Ministry of Defense. The Beaver UAV bears a resemblance to an airplane, featuring canards – horizontal control surfaces forward of its main wing – on the compact front section that help give it extended flight capabilities, covering a range of approximately 1,000 kilometers.

The canards incorporated into the aerodynamic design of the Beaver UAV increase its efficiency and maneuverability while reacting to threats in air defense zones or changing targets without compromising lift. While visually resembling the Iranian Shahed drone, it’s more susceptible to electronic warfare systems that Russia may be using. The preliminary technical specifications, though unverified, indicate a wingspan of about 2.5 meters, a length of approximately 2 to 2.5 meters, and an operational speed ranging from 150 to 200 km/h. Its estimated weight is around 150 kg, and the potential warhead capacity is approximately 20 kg. The UAV airframe is designed to allow launch from both prepared runways and highways, adding to its portability, flexibility and accessibility.

The UJ-26 Beaver is the latest addition to the Ukrainian arsenal, capable of striking targets deep within Russian territory. Produced by UkrJet, a private Ukrainian company, costing over $100,000 each, these drones are a significant investment in Ukraine’s defense strategy. Its design, resembling a ‘duck’ with its engine or propeller at the rear, makes it a distinctive presence in the skies.

Recent attacks on Moscow, including strikes on the IQ-quarter high-rise buildings and possibly even the Kremlin, have been attributed to the use of the Beaver drone. These incidents, occurring in July and August 2023, have highlighted the drone’s operational effectiveness and strategic impact.

The technology underpinning the Ukrainian Beaver drones shows striking similarities to the Shahed series of UAVs developed by Iran. This parallel in technological design reflects in their operational capabilities, although each series has its unique specifications. The Shahed drones, notably the smaller Shahed-131 and the larger Shahed-136, are designed for different operational ranges and payload capacities. The Shahed-131 can transport 15 kilograms of explosives over a range of 900 kilometers, while the Shahed-136 is capable of flying up to 2,000 kilometers with a 40-50 kilogram warhead. The Ukrainian Beaver drones, while sharing a technological lineage with the Shahed series, have been adapted and modified to meet specific operational requirements.

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