Russia Is Fighting With Iranian Kamikaze Drones

Ukraine eager to advertise the fact

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Russia has inflicted serious damage on Ukrainian forces with recently introduced Iranian drones, in its first wide-scale deployment of a foreign weapons system since the war began, Ukrainian commanders say.

Over the past week, Shahed-136 delta-wing drones, repainted in Russian colors and rebranded as Geranium 2, started appearing over Ukrainian armor and artillery positions in the northeastern Kharkiv region, said Col. Rodion Kulagin, commander of artillery of Ukraine’s 92nd Mechanized Brigade.

In his brigade’s operational area alone, the Iranian drones—which usually fly in pairs and then slam into their targets—have destroyed two 152-mm self-propelled howitzers, two 122-mm self-propelled howitzers, as well as two BTR armored infantry vehicles, he said.

Before the current wide-scale use of the Shaheds, Russia carried out a test last month, striking a U.S.-supplied M777 155-mm towed howitzer with the drone, Col. Kulagin said. Another Iranian drone malfunctioned and was recovered, he said.

So far, the Iranian drones seem to have been mostly deployed in the Kharkiv region, where the 92nd Brigade and other Ukrainian forces carried out a major offensive this month, retaking some 8,500 square kilometers, or roughly 3,300 square miles, of land occupied by Russia and seizing or destroying hundreds of Russian tanks, artillery pieces and armored carriers.

“In other areas, the Russians have overwhelming artillery firepower, and they manage with that. Here, they no longer have that artillery advantage, and so they have started to resort to these drones,” Col. Kulagin said.

Independent experts who examined photographs of recent drone wreckage from the Kharkiv region say that it appears to be Shahed-136, the latest evolution of Tehran’s delta-wing design.

Scott Crino, founder and chief executive of Red Six Solutions LLC, a strategic consulting firm, said the Shahed-136 could provide Russia with a “potent counterweight” to the high-tech weapons systems, such as Himars missile launchers, that the U.S. has provided to Ukraine.

“The presence of Shahed-136 in Ukraine war is undoubtedly changing the operational plans of Kyiv,” he said. “The sheer size of Ukraine battlefield makes it hard to defend against the Shahed-136.”

Mr. Crino said the Shahed-136 can be used with great effect with one targeting a radar system and the second one hitting artillery pieces. Iran also has antijamming systems that can make it hard for Ukrainian forces to counter, he said. “Once a Shahed locks onto target, it will be hard to stop,” he said.

Russia’s use of Shahed-136 drones in Ukraine represents the most challenging expansion of Tehran’s arsenal beyond the Middle East, where Iran has successfully used its unmanned aerial vehicles to pressure America and its allies in the region. It also highlights the deficiencies in Russia’s own drone program, which hasn’t been able to match the firepower of armed UAVs deployed by Ukraine.

Israel and the West have accused Iran and its proxies of flying armed drones to attack Saudi Arabia’s oil industry, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, American soldiers in Syria, as well as tankers in the Gulf of Oman in recent years.

The British Ministry of Defense, in its intelligence update on Sept. 14, also said it was highly likely that Russia had deployed Iranian drones in Ukraine for the first time. Noting that the Shahed-136 has a claimed range of 2,500 kilometers, it added that so far, it appears that Moscow is using these drones for tactical strikes near front lines rather than to destroy more strategic targets deep into Ukrainian territory.

The Iranian drones are relatively small and fly at a very low altitude, making it hard for Ukrainian air-defense systems to detect them, Col. Kulagin said. He said he hoped the U.S. and allies could provide Ukraine with more advanced antidrone technologies, or would step in to disrupt Iranian drone shipments to Russia.

  1. YakovKedmi says

    May we thank Generalissimo Shoigu and the Oligarch Military Complex for the lack of drones in the Russian armed forces ? And for the non-existent Russian drone production ? President Donetsk Mihaylov and General Strelkov Girkin do.

  2. SteveK9 says

    What does a Shahed-136 drone cost to produce? Any estimates out there?

  3. SteveK9 says

    Russia should start a nuclear reactor / drone barter system with Iran (joke alert).

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.