Ukraine: Police shoot down drone with guns in Kyiv

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Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, ordered strikes to rain down in Ukraine, including Kyiv, in a major escalation in the conflict. Last week, at least 10 cities were targeted as a barrage of attacks began, with Russia using both drones and missiles to batter critical infrastructure across the country. One weapon, the Iranian-made Shaed-136 drone, was used on Monday, despite Putin claiming he would not launch any more “massive strikes”. Dubbed “kamikaze” drones, the weapons swoop down and crash into targets before detonating an explosive device, which is where they get their terrifying moniker.

Alexander Lord, Senior Eurasia analyst at Sybiline, told “The advantages ‘kamikaze drones’ have is that they are cheap, easily produced but still have significant range. In short, they are providing Russia with alternative and cheaper capabilities to continue striking at civilian and military targets deep inside Ukraine amid diminishing stocks of advanced cruise missiles.

“It is currently unknown how many such drones Russia possesses, though Western intelligence reports indicated that Tehran began delivering ‘hundreds’ of such drones in August.”

The drone, known as balalaika, has an eight-foot wingspan, weighs around 440 pounds and can travel through the air at a maximum speed of 115 miles per hour. 

With a 1,500-mile range, they are used by Russia over long distances to strike targets deep inside Ukraine. However, the weapons have their flaws. They don’t have precision-guided systems on board, making them less advanced than other high-tech military equipment, as they only have commercial-class satellite navigation.

And while their ability to crash into targets can be devastating, they are only to hit stationary objects. Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops have reportedly been successful at shooting the drones out of the skies.  

Mr Lord said: “The Ukrainian General Staff regularly claims its forces have shot down Shahed and Orlan drones, with open source evidence suggesting that such platforms are indeed being intercepted in significant numbers.

“The Ukrainians are utilising existing air defence systems as well as developing new systems to counter the loitering munitions threat, including unconfirmed reports of the development of a ‘fowler’ drone interceptor, which would provide Ukrainian troops with a purpose-built short-range system capable of targeting UAVs up to 1000 metres.”

One defence system being used by Ukrainian forces is the Soviet-built radar-guided ZSU-23-4 Shilka anti-aircraft system, with four auto-cannons. Another, the Osa short-range missile system, dubbed Gecko SA-8 by NATO, is also proving effective. 

Hassan, a 30-year-old lieutenant of a five-man team operating an Osa system, told The Times: “We live in the mud in holes beside it, getting rained on waiting, always waiting. Then if we get a sudden order on the radio from one of our early warning systems that a drone is approaching, we scramble into the vehicle and power it up.”

Ukraine has claimed that Russia got around 2,400 drones from Iran in total, although reports differ, with more than 30 raining down in strikes on Monday alone. the Ukrainian Air Force claimed it destroyed at least 37 of these drones on Monday.

The attacks with these weapons have shaken up the Ukrainian people, but President Volodymyr Zelensky has reassured that more air defence systems from the West will arrive soon to fend off drone strikes. 

He said that  “the enemy can attack our cities, but it won’t be able to break us”, adding that the strikes have been “terrorising the civilian population”.

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Another drone being used by the Russians is the domestically-produced Orlan-10s. Mr Lord told “In terms of the damage such drones can inflict, the Orlan-10 for example is capable of carrying up to four high-explosive fragmentation projectiles, with visual footage indicating Sahed drones inflicting significant damage to static targets.

“However, the destructive power of these drones cannot compare to that inflicted by Russia’s more advanced cruise and ballistic missiles, such as Kalibr or Iskandr.” 

But in addition to these drone models, Russia also has the Shahed-129 and Qods Mohajer-6, which are both bigger systems than the delta-shaped Shahed-136. They are capable of carrying guided missiles and unlike the kamikaze and Orlan drones, are unmanned combat aerial vehicles and can be used for intelligence gathering or reconnaissance.   

The West also claimed Iran is violating the 2015 nuclear deal by providing Russia with its drones. 

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