LSA-Based Exploding Drones Used In Attacks On Russia


Ukraine’s latest potent weapon is a homegrown drone that, when it’s not carrying hundreds of pounds of high explosive, has room for two adults and their baggage. The “mass drone attack” conducted against three air bases hundreds of miles inside Russia was reportedly carried out, at least in part, by Aeroprakt A-22 light sport aircraft fitted with remote piloting systems and the rest of the space filled with explosives. It’s made by Ukraine-based Aeroprakt Aircraft. Ukraine is claiming that up to six Russian aircraft were destroyed, eight were damaged. Another attack reportedly hit the dormitory of a drone factory making Iranian attack drones in Tartarstan and injured 13 people.

Forbes is reporting the converted LSAs have a range of up to 600 miles, three times that of its other attack drones. Although they only fly about 80 knots, there’s not much in the way of air defenses in much of that part of Russia so survivability is quite high. But the main advantage is cost. The assembled cost of the aircraft is about $90,000, far less than the cost of long-range missiles typically used for deep strikes like this. The remote-pilot gear value isn’t known. In their LSA form, the A-22 has either a Rotax 912 or 912ULS for power and is an all-metal high-wing design. Aeroprakt ships them all over the world as complete aircraft and as kits. In the U.S., it’s distributed by Leighnor Aircraft in Prescott, Arizona.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. So if Ukraine can use an LSA aircraft as a slow ‘cruise missile’, it can be used anywhere.
    And here in the US, we have millions who have crossed into the US , who may do what ?

    • And to be fair there’s a higher likelihood of ‘one of us’ kooks with an AR doing a lot more damage with a lot less cost and complexity. If you’re really worried about immigration (and there are many issues here) perhaps this angle you bring up is not the right one.

      • If you want the real winner for trouble it’s the rental truck, or, if you can manage to get control of one, the large jet plane. A rifle with large magazine is dangerous, but a couple sharp knives will do fine. Choosing an ironically proscribed “gun free zone” adds to the effectiveness of any attack. Flying bombs around is just going out of your way unless you are at war.

        Also, the domestic Kooks argument is sort of misleading. Since this is an aviation site, I’ll use an aviation analogy. You are much more likely to have a fatal accident caused by yourself as pilot than caused by a malfunction. So are you going to stop doing annuals? No. We should also not stop trying to prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the country. It doesn’t matter what the percentage of illegal or improperly screened entrants is, or how benevolent the majority of them are, it’s a wise and required job for the federal government to prevent those people from entering. The fact we have domestic kooks already is just added reason not to let more in.

  2. Ukraine’s creativity turning an LSA into a smart bomb to hit targets way inside Russia within range of Moscow is pretty impressive. Ukraine is changing the way wars are fought by using smart ideas and quick moves to respond to Russia’s aggression. This situation shows how the fight between Ukraine and Russia is changing and gives a hint at what wars in the future might look like. In these future battles, being smart, using the latest tech, and thinking outside the box will make a big difference. Go Ukraine!

    • Squared, Raf!
      Sadly, my own Service is busy flapping their jaws with a Program called ‘Agile Prime’, et al — aimed at uses like this — but SO far, all they have are nifty looking and sounding web pages, LOTs of money spent, sore arms from patting themselves on their backs and very little to show for it. And when a vehicle finally does show up, they’ll spend 10 years testing it to make sure it doesn’t fall on anyone’s head (sic) and meets MilSpec. Meanwhile — at the REAL war — the Ukrainians are making do with what they have and making it work for them. GOOD ON YA, Ukraine.
      AND … finally … LSA’s found a useful “mission.” 🙂 🙂

      • IMHO, that LSA was a good job, but I’m saving the gold star for when they send something even less expensive. An LSA is over engineered for a one flight vehicle.
        They have cardboard, flat pack drones now. When they scale those up, that will be something amazing. (And cheaper than a MANPADS).

    • Sadly, no. This is neither new nor smart nor innovative. What it does show is that defeating ground and air defenses is now child’s play. Off-the-shelf now gives just anyone precision delivery systems.

      • Uh . . . what air defenses? From the article:

        “…there’s not much in the way of air defenses in much of that part of Russia…”

  3. A year or so back, news reports were that the Russians were converting old AN-2 biplanes to autonomous drones. Don’t think anything ever came from that, but it apparently gave Ukraine some ideas….

  4. It just ‘hit’ me … despite the bad boys diddling with GPS signals, somehow the Ukrainians managed to navigate these airplanes to their intended targets successfully. Maybe we should hire them to solve the same problem for commercial aviation (sic).

  5. How soon before someone stateside uses this video as “proof!” that little airplanes are truly dangerous, and that we need to expand the size and restrictions of TFRs?

    We may well be closer to the first shutdown of a small plane flown by a clueless pilot that blunders into a TFR.

  6. I’ve been saying for years what a great cruise missile a 172 would make. Surprised we haven’t heard more of these reports before this.

  7. If the West is reluctant to provide more and timely equipment to Ukraine they may die slowly by a thousand cuts. Next step is for Putin, interpreting the timidity of the West, invade a former satellites, now part of NATO. I don’t have children or grand children and for those that do, the battlefield is waiting for them in Europe. A read of “The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin” is worthy of your time. Neville Chamberlain made the same grievous error in looking into Hitlers eyes and seeing his soul.

  8. I’m surprised the discussion ended here. Last night I watched a very informative interview with retired British General Richard Shirreff. You’ll be able to find it on YouTube under NATO “isn’t prepared for war with Russia”. I have his book recently published but haven’t had time to dive into it. “Red Notice” by Bill Browder is also an eye opener. Given what we now know and this is an aviation venue, I suggest we not let Boeing degrade further since they were a mainstay of our industrial power to rapidly build our airpower when needed in WW2.