Killer drones vie for Ukrainian hegemony

They are accurate, small in size and able to effectively penetrate air defenses mass shooting And best of all, they’re cheap.

of Russian invasion of Ukrainekiller drones have solidified their reputation as powerful, cost-effective weapons capable of locating and destroying targets, while also spreading the kind of fear that can shake the resolve of soldiers and civilians alike. .

They’re also rapidly overtaking missiles as their ranged weapon of choice. Flying death machines known as “poor man’s cruise missiles” can flood any combat theater much cheaper.

Russia’s successive launches of Iranian-made Shahed drones over Ukraine have multiple goals. They seek to seize key targets, crush morale, and ultimately eliminate enemy forces and weapons.

How Do Wartime Drones Work?

The Shahed drones, redesignated by Russia as Geran-2, are also known as loitering munitions in Ukraine’s arsenal.

Packed with explosives and pre-programmed with target GPS coordinates. They can then roam overhead and swoop in to kill. Reminds me of a kamikaze pilot.

According to Ukrainian online publication Defense Express, citing Iranian data, the delta-winged Shahed is 3.5 meters (11½ ft) long, 2.5 meters (8 ft 3 in) wide and weighs about 200 kilograms (440 ft). pound). She is powered by a 50 hp engine and has a top speed of 185 kmph (114 mph).

Drones have previously been used in Yemen and were used in last year’s deadly oil tanker attack, said Beanham Ben Talebul, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracy, a Washington-based think tank.

And while it has a range of about 1,000 km (621 miles), Samuel Bendet, a drone expert at the CNA think tank, said Shahed is used in Ukraine at a much shorter range. The reason is that the GPS guidance system, which is prone to jamming, is not very robust.

Shaheds are known to have been controlled via radio under the Iranians. It is unclear whether Russia can do the same in the Ukrainian theater.

They are cheap and plentiful, allowing Russia to flood Ukraine with Shahed without endangering the lives of its pilots or endangering its advanced aircraft.

In the attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Monday, mayor Vitali Klitschko said 28 drones made a continuous attack wave. Drones fired in quick succession from the Truck Launcher can fly low and slowly, avoiding radar detection.

They don’t technically form herds, Bendett pointed out. Such sophisticated drone technology exists — when multiple unmanned aerial vehicles communicate with each other. Instead, Shahed are simply launched in swarms to overwhelm defenses, especially in civilian areas. “They know most people don’t survive,” he said.

But their intimidating power outweighs their explosive power.

According to Mykola Bielieskov, a researcher at the National Institute of Strategic Studies of Ukraine, the Shahed can only carry 40 kg (88 lb) of explosive, while the 480 kg (1,050-lb) warhead of a conventional missile can deliver at a much longer range.

“It is difficult to hit serious targets with such drones,” said Bielieskov.

Low cost even with a small punch

At just $20,000 each, Shahed is just a fraction of a full-size missile. For example, Russia’s Kalibr cruise missiles were widely used in the eight-month war, costing the Russian military about $1 million each.

At such a low cost, Shahed has been used effectively to saturate targets, whether fuel depots or not. Infrastructure and utilities such as power plants and water stationsRussia is using them precisely in combination with reconnaissance drones to attack Ukrainian artillery, Bedett said.

Despite their small size, Shahed’s explosives look powerful enough to do damage. In Monday’s attack, one drone hit the operations center and another smashed into his five-story residential building, creating a large hole in the building and collapsing at least three of his apartments, leaving three a person died

Ukrainian National Strategic Institute’s Biryeskov said Russia was now aiming Shahed at civilians rather than on the battlefield as Ukrainian forces “learned how to fight effectively” and intercepted just over half of them.

With no end in sight anytime soon, the financial burden of the conflict will weigh even more heavily on Moscow, which has not received billions of dollars in funding. Arms transfers from Western countries like UkraineAs conflict becomes one of attrition in nature, finding cheaper and more powerful weapons becomes critical as to who can bear its human, material and financial burden the longest. .

“The Shahed-136 is a cheap version of a cruise missile that Russia cannot produce quickly,” said Bielieskov.

Taleblu said Russia will likely continue to build up its long-range strike capabilities with Iranian drones.

“This should alarm Europe and the world,” he said.

Russian officials have not released data on the number of missiles launched during the conflict, but Ukraine’s defense minister recently claimed that Russia used most of its high-precision missile arsenal. October.

war of nerves

The constant hum of propeller-powered Shahed drones (combatants call them “mopeds” and “lawn mowers”) can terrify anyone below their flight path. .

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Caught by Drones Terror Elementsa social media post: “All night and all morning the enemy is terrorizing the civilian population.”

Bielieskov acknowledged that Shahed’s drone strike had raised concerns that Ukraine’s air defenses were inadequate. However, he said their use, even in large quantities, could not overrule Ukraine’s battlefield interests.


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