Russian military experts and researchers have test-flown a new drone spy, Zala, in the extreme cold conditions of Antarctica, according to reports. Zala is lighter, faster, and has a more operational range than its American counterpart RQ-11 Raven.
The UAV was produced by an Izhevsk-based company, Zala Aero, part of Kalashnikov Group under state corporation Rostec.
Zala Aero special projects head Nikita Khamitov told Russian news agency TASS, “We have operators: female scientists in the Antarctic. They are using the Zala 421-08 small unmanned aerial vehicle.”
According to Khamitov, the Zala drones are the only Russia-made UAVs that fly both in the North and the South poles, and that the drones have high operational effectiveness in harsh cold conditions. “Our operators used the drones at the lowest temperature of minus 52 degrees Celsius”, he added.
The Zala 421-08 is a small, portable, hand-launched drone that can be used for a variety of missions including frontline reconnaissance, overground and over-sea surveillance, and can be employed and carried by soldiers and special forces units in advance to locate enemy strongholds and protect from ambushes.
With the complete kit weighing only 9 kg, it includes 2 aerial vehicles, a compact ground control station, 2 spare power supply kits, and a backpack container used for transportation.
The Zala 421-08 has a wingspan of 0.8 meters and an overall length of 0.41 meters and weighs just 1.7 kilograms having a flight ceiling of 3600m above mean sea level. It can travel as far as 15 kilometers and has a top speed of 150 kmph.
This is significantly higher than its famous American counterpart, the RQ-11 Raven, which weighs almost 2 kg, has a 10 km operational range with a top speed of 32 kmph only.
The Zala drone can carry a colored and infrared video camera, along with a photo camera with a resolution of 10 megapixels. The aircraft can fly via GPS or GLONASS navigation systems. The drone’s fixed design, light-weight, and smart control system allow for its operation by the personnel with the minimum training level.