The Designer of Russia’s First Armed Drone Is Under Arrest

The Elon Musk of Russian drones is under arrest in Tatarstan, charged with fraud — a situation that some observers say has the look of a shakedown. Either way, the unusual case could slow the Russian military’s UAV ambitions.

On April 16, local law enforcement in Tatarstan arrested Alexander Gomzin, the general director and chief designer for the OKB Simonov Design Bureau, on charges of “abuse of authority, misappropriation of budgetary funds and fraud” — in essence, lying and embezzlement, according to the Russian news site Business Online.

Simonov’s important defense contracts include a mysterious five-ton, medium- or high-altitude long-endurance armed drone, tentatively called Altair or Altius. The group is also working on the Zenitsa air-launched drone and even an unnamed turbojet drone. The firm scored a billion rubles from the Russian government to make all of these marvels of war.

The arrest could slow Russia’s military drone development, according to Samuel

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