Russia's Copy Of Ukraine's Maritime Drones: Sargan USV
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. A group from Sevastopol has displayed a new uncrewed surface vessel, the Sargan, at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), as noticed by uncrewed systems expert at CNA (Center for Naval Analyses), Samuel Bendett (Twitter). The 'Sargan' vehicle has clear influences from Ukraine's 'maritime drones'. These have been attacking the Russian Navy in Sevastopol since October 2022. Sargan (Сарган) means Garfish, a long and slender predatory fish with an extremely pointed snout.
It has high level of maneuverability with a turning radius of just 4-5 meters, and is self-righting if it capsizes.
Model on display.
According to a Telegram post by Russian appointed Governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhayev, the small USV is intended, among other things, to protect convoys of ships. Razvozhayev said that the design was a joint development between Sevastopol State University and the research and educational center MoreAgroBioTech (Мореагробиотех). MoreAgroBioTech is a Sevastopol based 'Integrated scientific and educational center'. It is associated with developing young engineers and scientists on maritime projects. Since the 2022 Invasion it appears to have taken on a military slant.
Despite being similar in overall terms, the USV is much smaller than the Ukrainian types. It is only 2.12 meters (7 ft) long and 0.53 meters (1.7 ft) across. Speed is 33 knots and it weighs just 20 kg. This implies no meaningful warhead, which suggests that it almost certainly is not the same design that Russia employed against the bridge at Zatoka on Feb 10 2023. That must have been larger.
For comparison, Ukraine's maritime drones are more than twice the length and weigh about 50 times more. Their warhead is in the region of 100 kg.
Model on display. The jetski style pump jet is evident in this view. Overall, the vehicle is similar to Ukrainian types.
It is also described as having roles including "protection of water areas and the coast against pirates". More convincingly, it can perform "reconnaissance and support of special operations in the waters and coast". To round out the list, "search and rescue" has been added.
Although its intend role is vague, its small size and lack of satellite communications suggests short-range missions. For convoy protection is is possibly intended as a complement to crewed escorts, being directly controlled from one of them. How useful this would be is unclear.
This is likely not an operational type, rather a patriotic project hoping for government funding. The biggest take-away at this point is that, despite their limited impact in the kinetic sense, Ukraine's maritime drones are having an impact on Russian thinking.
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