The Russian troops are supplied with drones of the Russian assembly "Sibiryachok-1", the cost of each UAV, according to the statements of the "military correspondents", is from one to 2.5 million rubles. However, these drones do not get to the front directly from the Ministry of Defense. Until now, it has not been officially reported who produces and purchases "Sibiryachki". Sergey Tovkach, CEO of Avianovatsiya, said in a conversation with The Insider that there are no drones of their own production in the Russian Federation, the products have been completely transferred to a Chinese base, and this may be sawing the budget. All components of the "Sibiryachka" can indeed be found on AliExpress, and they cost not several million, but about 200 thousand rubles, which aroused suspicion even among the "military correspondents" propagandists. And those who first drew attention to the non-transparent supply chain and the possible cut of the budget began to receive threats in personal messages.
Pro-Russian "military correspondents" claim that the manufacturer of the "Russian" drone "Sibiryachok" may be a company owned by a longtime acquaintance of the Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Marat Khusnullin - "Gaskar Group". At the same time, Gaskar Group is openly looking for administrators of the UAV project for 130 thousand rubles at a specialized service, but the name Sibiryachok does not appear anywhere. The Insider sent an official request to the company, but no response has been received at the time of publication.
"Correct or delete post"
On June 10, Russian “military officer” Roman Saponkov said on his Telegram channel, citing a source at the front, that the Russian-made Sibiryachok-1 drone is being supplied to the Russian troops, and the military personnel are being “transplanted” to a new UAV. Saponkov also published a photo and video of the drone, noting that in fact it is a UAV made of cheap Chinese-made plastic and with Chinese engines.
UAV components are available on AliExpress, their retail price is no more than 200 thousand rubles, the propagandist noted. According to military personnel, drones already cost at least 2.5 million rubles, but there is no direct evidence and official information about this.
Voenkor claims that drones from the factory come with the wrong connection of motors, they rotate in the wrong direction. On some UAVs, the propellers were incorrectly installed; on one UAV, the camera was installed upside down and the servicemen rearranged it “in the fields.” With a load of 1 kilogram, the drone does not maintain altitude, “scours and tries to fall over,” and falls into a swamp near the operators, as the servicemen themselves said. Saponkov also claims that an incident has already occurred with one of the UAVs, as a result of which one person was injured:
“In one of the units, during takeoff, the copter fell on the military and chopped it to the meat with screws. The camera is extremely poor quality, shows video in three seconds with a long delay. As a result, it is not used in combat, using the remnants of DJI products.
Not a single incident with Sibiryachok drones has been officially reported. The propagandist’s publication also states that due to the supplies of the Sibiryachka promoted by someone, the supply of drones to the Chinese company DJI Mavic could be blocked.
“I would not get into someone else's business. They earned on the army before the war, earn during the war and will earn after. But there is a non-zero probability that the deliveries of Maviks were cut off for pushing a non-working copter into the troops.
The pro-Russian Telegram channel “Two Majors”, which actively covers the war in Ukraine, also wrote about this.
“Citizens of corrupt officials! Do you know why the United States has such gigantic defense budgets (pick up your saliva early)? Because they have learned to steal from the profits. And in the end, we don’t have money and drones. Start production, supply trains to the troops, and then pinch yourself off. Already fucked up."
The URAL DRONE HUB channel published photos of the UAV and instructions for use provided by the military.
“This craft, presumably (well, who will give us a purchase?) is sold for about 1 million rubles, which is comparable to the price of 5 Mavic 3. The quality of workmanship is in the photo, I don’t even know how to explain such a low-grade 3D in 2023 seal. The camera is a camera, as we see here, as much as 1080P FULL HD, the price of which is 5 thousand rubles on a market day on AliExpress, ”the publication says.
The propagandists also noted that the UAV fasteners are rusty, the total price of all components is about 120 thousand rubles. The VGTRK military correspondent Andrey Medvedev , Telegram channels " Other Side of the Medal ", " Engineers to the Front ", Sergey Moskalkov and " RomanovLight " drew attention to the problem.
Later, the military commander Saponkov was indignant in his Telegram channel that after the first publication, unknown people began to write messages to him demanding to correct or delete the post. The reports said that the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation had nothing to do with this UAV, and also that Saponkov made a mistake and he would have to answer for it.
Under the screenshot with threats, he noted that if the Ministry of Defense has nothing to do with Sibiryachka, therefore, an unknown group of people began mass production of drones, began to pull out operators for training from the front line, and this same group delivers the first copies to the troops and already has stock leftovers .
He stressed that this is a group of people who, by prior agreement, gathered with the aim of "reducing the combat readiness of the army", as well as dissipating military resources on products that are obviously not working. According to the military correspondent, this is a crime aimed at reducing the defense capability of Russia, so the Federal Security Service (FSB) should intervene. He also suggested that otherwise, these are anonymous threats who made a mistake, and the drone is being purchased officially. Until the circumstances were clarified, Saponkov refused to remove his post.
Who can be the manufacturer of "Sibiryachka"?
After the threats, Saponkov continued to write about the Sibiryachok drone, so, on June 15, he announced that the drone manufacturer had been found. According to the military correspondent, this is Gaskar Group LLC. Saponkov claims that the site had a description of "Sibiryachka", but it was removed after the scandal.
Saponkov gave a description of the company's stand at the XVI International Helicopter Industry Exhibition HeliRussia 2023 on May 18:
“Gaskar Group LLC presented its developments: the Sibiryachok UAV is an MKT UAV with increased wind resistance. The device is equipped with a two-axis video camera with a resolution of 2 MP, can stay in the air for up to 30 minutes and has a speed of up to 43 km/h. UAV "Siberia-1" is an unmanned aerial vehicle of a multicopter type with a payload of up to 3 kg. It can carry out missions at distances up to 10 km and stay in the air for up to 60 minutes.”
The Ural Drone Hub Telegram channel also claims that Sibiryachok is produced by Gaskar Group. A screenshot of the site is attached to the publication, according to propagandists, the statement was deleted after the posts of Roman Saponkov, but this statement could not be found in the archive.
Now in the “For the Media” section, “Gascar Group” has no information about the Sibiryachok UAV, and the mobile and PC versions of the site differ from the one presented by the propagandists in the screenshot.
There is also no information about the Sibiryachok drone on the website of the HeliRussia 2023 International Helicopter Industry Exhibition, but Gaskar Group is mentioned among the participants:
The founders of the company are Igor Afanasiev (he owns 15%) and Marat Khafizov (he owns 85%). They are old acquaintances, Afanasyev is also the general director of Gascar Technologies LLC.
After the war, Afanasyev and Khafizov also had other companies - Geosoft LLC, Digital Lab - developers of computer software. It was not possible to find direct connections of one of their companies with the Sibiryachok drone. At the same time, Khafizov is closely connected with the former Deputy Mayor of Moscow, now Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Marat Khusnullin. In 2018, the pro-Russian edition of Life published an article about the “Khusnullin construction team”, which stated that companies and people close to Khusnullin would make good money on renovations in the capital. So, in October 2017, a businessman from Tatarstan, Marat Khafizov, became the general director of Mosinzhproekt, before that, Khafizov had served as the general director of Luzhniki since 2013. “Now not a single large construction project can do without Mosinzhproekt in the capital. According to the SPARK database, in 2017 alone he “took” state contracts for almost 323 billion rubles, ”Life reported then.
There are still indirect signs indicating a possible connection between Sibiryachka and Khafizov's company. Gascar Group LLC is part of Amethyst Capital. Amethyst Capital, among other things, is testing drones under the authority of the state holding Sibur, but the name Sibiryachok does not appear in the news about this. A note from the CNews publication, which was published even before the full-scale invasion of Russia in Ukraine, on February 14, 2022, refers to the testing of the Russian “Dronoport Hive” (Hive is one of the Gascar Group projects) at ZapSibNeftekhim. The source of the CNews news is the representatives of the Gascar Group.
In the news, Gascar Group is called an IT integrator and a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation, aimed at "development of start-ups and projects to digitize the construction industry." Photos and videos of tests were not published.
It is also worth noting that in June 2022, the drone manufacturer COEX (Copter Express) sold the industrial part of its business to the developer of the Gascar Group drone port, Hive. That is, the Russian company has more capacity for the production of drones at the height of the war in Ukraine.
And finally, Gaskar Group is looking for employees on the Russian job search service HeadHunter, but applications can only be found by entering the name in English: Gaskar Group. The administrator of the UAV project is promised from 130 thousand rubles a month. The person, according to the company, will be required to create and control the project budget, communicate with contractors and control their work, maintain and track the project schedule, and participate in meetings with the customer. At the same time, the candidate needs experience in independent project management and experience in working with UAVs, and “experience in working in projects where a state-owned company acted as a customer” is also desirable.
The company has another open vacancy, also related to UAVs - a test pilot at Sibnk LLC, Siberian Navigation Company, but the salary for this position is not specified.
Nobody sold drones to the Ministry of Defense
VGTRK propagandist Andrei Medvedev, after the "military correspondents" began to actively discuss drones, published a message on Telegram in which he claims that he personally talked with the director of the commercial company that produces it. Neither the name of the company, nor the name of the director, he did not name. However, the post says that the drone is “really their commercial development”, like the “Zala” or the Lobaev rifle. At the same time, Medvedev stressed that the drone was not sold to anyone anywhere, much less to the Ministry of Defense. According to him, prototypes were handed over for testing, and the manufacturers themselves understood that “the product is not perfect”, that it still needs to be “finished”.
“The drone control software is written by our programmers. That is, unlike imported ones, it is not necessary to “break”, reflash. The guys say that they have written such algorithms that the drone can work in hard electronic warfare conditions, and they will be able to quickly adapt it, taking into account the input from the fighters at the front about the new electronic warfare frequencies.”
Medvedev claims that soon the next batch will be sent to the front for testing. According to him, the drone is only partially made from Chinese parts, in the Russian Federation all drone manufacturers use Chinese parts. The manufacturer of "Sibiryachka" called the cost of 2.5 million rubles declared by the military commanders crazy, claiming that it is 10 times less. He also allegedly told Medvedev that the drone was not yet for sale.
“We agreed that the manufacturers and the workshop would show and what they could tell about their products. So, I will return to this topic,” Medvedev wrote.
Doubts were expressed by the Rybar Telegram channel. He stressed that time will tell how true Medvedev's publication is. However, he pointed out that, even in the absence of a corruption component, there are problems with these drones.
The author of the first post about Sibiryachki, Saponkov, replied to Medvedev, admitting that he allegedly has information directly from the manufacturer, but so far the “opposite side” has not been heard. He wrote that the confusion could arise from the indication of a "book value" or some price for a "serial machine brought to mind" in the future. "Voyenkor" urged to start raising accounting documents and statements and make them public, but immediately noted that no one would do this. Saponkov said that if the cost of the drone is really 270 thousand, then you need to bring it to mind and there will be a “good device”. And if it surpasses DJI products in terms of parameters, then "the price of 2.5 million will be a good price for a decent device."
Clone drones from China
During the war with Ukraine, due to the imposition of sanctions against the Russian Federation, Chinese components began to be used in the assembly of Russian drones. For example, a complete Chinese analogue of an American operational amplifier, which costs 190 rubles, can be bought for 5 rubles and 10 kopecks when buying from 50 pieces.
Sergey Tovkach, CEO of Avianovatsiya, a developer of unmanned aerial vehicles, told The Insider that Russian products have already been fully transferred to the Chinese and domestic base. The price has dropped by a factor of three, while drone manufacturers do not make their own hardware, but buy it ready-made in China, which caused problems, notes Tovkach:
“First, the Chinese understand everything and have raised prices. Secondly, the PRC produces iron using Western components, and they have risen in price very much in recent years, because Taiwan does not provide plates to many Western manufacturers. And thirdly, it is possible that they are cutting the budget on this. In general, China has cloned and produces almost everything that mankind has invented. For example, 90% of UAVs fly on STM32, this is ARM of French origin.”
Full clones of Philippine microcontrollers for 1740 rubles from the Chinese company GIGADEVICE will cost almost three times cheaper.
“The power of the microcontroller from GIGADEVICE is enough for half of the products used at the front, for example, for the implementation of aircraft-type UAVs. And microcontrollers are available in buckets. That is, such UAVs can be built now without resorting to Western electronics at all. The copters will not work out yet, they need more powerful stones. Therefore, the Chinese release them on STM.
We do not have domestic production of drones. There are domestic ZALA, Kronstadt and Kalashnikov, but these are other stories. Everything else, just like the Ukrainians, is collected from China on the knee. UAV developers, those who make hardware and software themselves, there are 20 people all over Russia who are not classified. All the rest are assemblers, they stupidly assemble from Chinese blocks, you don’t need a lot of mind for this. ”
On the first day of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), among other things, Russian drones were presented, the kits of which can also be found on AliExpress. Among other things, the authorities showed the new Patriot K30T drone, but almost identical UAVs are sold by the Chinese company Autel Robotics, Nestka journalists drew attention . On Amazon, the EVO II Pro V3 drone kit costs $ 2,500, on AliExpress it can be found at a discount for 172 thousand rubles. Officially, the price of the new "Russian" "Patriot K30T", which was shown at the forum, is still unknown.