Russia’s Naval Game-Changer: What is Known about the BBKN Dandelion Maritime Warfare Drone

Russian Company Ready to Begin Mass Production of 'Dandelion' Naval Drones.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

Since February 2022, Russia has been able to master the technologies and production of Aerial drones fully. Today, more than ten drones are used—from small surveillance to large attack drones. 

Now, a Russian defence-industrial corporation known as (Kingisepp Machine-Building Plant (KMZ is getting ready to begin serial manufacturing of the first unmanned vessels or maritime drones of the “Dandelion” class in Russia. 

The Eastern Military District is now hosting the initial stock of experimental drones to conduct inspections and tests. According to Mikhail Danilenko, the organisation’s managing director, KMZ is ready to fulfil serial orders, and “quick and mass production of such drone vessels” is promised. He said KMZ is also willing to fulfil orders in advance. 

What is known about BBKN Dandelion?

When a video from October 2022 was posted to social media showing the attack by surface kamikaze drones on Russian Black Sea Fleet ships in Sevastopol Bay, interest in marine drones began to grow. Instead of being submerged, the drones can be seen floating above the surface in the video. The Russian ships attempted to hide or evade the attack, but the drone could keep up with and overtake each vessel. It’s also evident that the drone could keep operating even with machine gun fire aimed at it. 

On November 22, Russia announced the creation of a maritime drone, and the announcement went unnoticed.

Mikhail Danilenko, managing director of the KMZ company, told reporters in December 2023 that the first Russian unmanned boat for the Russian Ministry of Defence had been built and would be sent to the Eastern Military District for testing. He said nine more drones would be built and given to the Ministry of Defence by the year’s end. Russian Military experts stress that Russia now has maritime surface drones, especially useful for carrying out special operations.

According to the maker, the BBKN “Dandelion” can attain speeds of up to 80 km/h and has a range of 200 kilometres. The boat’s useful payload is around 600 kg, including explosives, unique cargo, surveillance, and reconnaissance tools. Furthermore, the “Dandelion” can serve as both an airborne drone platform and an anti-drone, according to KMZ.

The company reported that Dandelion is built on the “Vizir” platform. “We refer to it as a ‘disposable boat.’ As per Mikhail Danilenko, it is low-profile, flat, and has a minimal height over the water’s surface, resulting in low visibility.

At the “Army-2022” symposium, KMZ showcased a hydrographic variant of the surface unmanned drone “Vizir-M” (RK-700M / 03080 / Sapphire) for civilian applications. The system, which may carry hydroacoustic equipment, is designed to examine coastal zones and the seafloor.

The development had piqued the interest of Russian military officials, and during the “Army-2023” exposition, the company exhibited a modification of the unmanned boat RK-700 “Vizir” (now called Dandelion). According to the developer, the drone’s hull comprises composite materials with minimal observability technology and is flexible in design. In addition, the hull is armoured. Also on exhibit for the boat was KMZ’s in-house designed Water Jet, the KMZjet-295.

KMZ’s information and control system includes the “Murena” technological vision system, and the boats also have navigation tools and an autopilot. The creators mentioned an innovative way of controlling the boat that distinguishes it from foreign counterparts, but these details were not revealed. A collapsible A-shaped mast holds part of the equipment.

The unmanned boat can carry out the programmed routines and react to numerous difficulties and changes in the situation. After accomplishing a task or if the adversary attempts to intercept it, the boat activates a special function to return to the base.

“Vizir” can intercept and destroy other maritime drones by engaging them with machine gun fire or missiles and using electronic warfare equipment. The creators also claim that it can launch airborne drones on its own.

No Targets

The current battle in Ukraine can be summed up as a conflict between drones. They are widely used in special operations zones, both aerial and maritime. The arrival of autonomous boats and marine drones in Russia was only a matter of time. However, it is now required to determine their intended usage. So far, the Ukrainian Navy does not have any military ships or vessels. So, most likely, these boats will be used initially against certain coastal objects or as carriers of airborne drones.

Unmanned boats are still a new sort of armament. Thus, more development is expected in the defence sector, including new samples and models. This emerging field of weapon production and military technology will see technological advancements and application methods. 


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