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.
Ukrainian 2S3 "Acacia" Howitzer, allegedly destroyed by the Iranian kamikaze UAV Shahed-136. pic.twitter.com/NnhUD8bjzl
— ayden (@squatsons) September 18, 2022
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.
— 3-3-3 (@ZaTritsa) September 16, 2022
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.
Based on the last 3 weeks of Iran flights to Moscow and usual deliveries, the hypothetical drone fleet seems rather limited (18/24 drones in case of Mohajer – 12/18 in case of Shahid). Ammunition should be also rather limited, around 200/300 units. IRGC personel also present.
— 3-3-3 (@ZaTritsa) September 8, 2022
IMO this seems pretty tame and follows a delivery protocol. This could be the reason why Ukraine is pushing now before the sky gets congested. Very puzzled by the lack of Orion presence according to K-stad statements in May. This would be the logic behind buying Iranian.
— 3-3-3 (@ZaTritsa) September 8, 2022
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.
WSJ Russia’s Use of Iranian Kamikaze Drones Creates New Dangers for Ukrainian Troops
Shahed-136 drones supplied to Russia carried out several devastating strikes in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region over past week, Ukrainian commanders say. UA counter failed or what. Its just drone pic.twitter.com/MjaWNm3x4d
— The Borg Cube-Tatanka (@CByder) September 17, 2022
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.
Iran’s Shahed-136 was just used by Russia in Kupyansk. It attacks autonomously and can target frontline forces, logistics, radar systems, SAMs, bases and act as a “guard” by monitoring a specific area and targeting the enemy when they enter the area pic.twitter.com/GZT5yqXwas
— LogKa (@LogKa11) September 13, 2022
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.