Russian Drone Fitted with Anti-Tank Missile Launcher Raises Questions

Russian Drone Fitted with Anti-Tank Missile Launcher Raises Questions

Videos surfaced on Telegram showing a Russian civilian drone rigged with a Soviet-era anti-tank missile launcher. The footage displays the drone launching the missile while airborne and grounded, perplexing analysts about its utility.

The mounted ATGM is an older 28-pound 9M111 “Fagot” missile, NATO codenamed “Bassoon.” The entire AT-4 “Spigot” launcher is strapped to the drone, including the canister and booster, but lacks its tripod.

Normally, the “Bassoon” is semi-automatically guided by a human operator using a wire spool, allowing control during flight. But the drone lacks direct human operation, meaning no one is looking through sights or manipulating controls. As a result, the missile is essentially an unguided rocket, likely only able to hit very close targets.

This dramatically reduces the missile’s effectiveness at longer ranges. With no guidance possible, the drone-ATGM may already be obsolete compared to remote-controlled “kamikaze” RPG drones – cheaper, mass-producible and better against moving targets.

But RPGs and ATGMs differ, as _Popular Mechanics_ explains. RPGs are lightweight, short-range, and inexpensive. ATGMs are heavier, costlier and have 1-4 mile range. They’re guided to the target over 30+ seconds depending on the weapon and distance.

So what role could this drone play? If intended for short-range “dumb” firing, it may be useful. But if human guidance can be connected from the ATGM to the drone, it could prove very valuable for Russian soldiers, enabling missile strikes from beyond visual range.

The drone’s purpose is still unclear. Its lack of direct guidance raises doubts about effectiveness versus cheaper suicide RPG drones. But if control limitations are overcome, the drone-ATGM could potentially allow long-range precision strikes, making it a deadly aerial weapon.