Ukraine’s military has described the “effective” weapons its fighters are using to fend off drone attacks from Russian forces.
Kyiv’s soldiers use large-caliber machine guns to shoot down the slow-moving, low-flying Shahed drones, Lt. Gen. Serhiy Nayev, of the Command of the United Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said in a statement posted to Facebook.
Iranian-made Shahed-131 and -136 drones have become a common sight across Ukraine since the start of full-scale war in February 2022. The unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are operated by Russia. Tehran initially denied supplying Moscow with the drones. However, Iran then said it had sent a “small number of drones months before the Ukraine war.”
The drones attempt to “dodge” Ukraine’s air defenses, Nayev said, adding the drones are “constantly changing” their flight paths.
On April 1, the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said it had shot down six Shahed-136 drones launched by Russia. The previous day, the General Staff said Russia had launched 10 Shahed-136 UAVs in Ukraine, of which nine were intercepted.
A member of a Ukrainian volunteer unit “Customs”, 56, poses next to debris caused by a crashed drone in a trench used by the unit to counter threats during air-raid sirens in a suburb of Kyiv on February 28, 2023. Ukraine’s military frequently reports Russian drone attacks across the country.
YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP via Getty Images
Drone attacks are regularly reported by Ukraine’s military. Among the drones used by Russian forces are the Shahed-131 and the larger Shahed-136, equipped with warheads that can shatter or explode as they approach their target.
Also known as “kamikaze” or “suicide” drones, they travel at slow speeds. The Shahed-136 has a range of around 1,200 miles, whereas the smaller -131 can travel around 550 miles.
Previous footage has shown Ukrainian fighters taking apart the downed remains of the drones, with one Ukrainian intelligence officer labeling the Shaheds as a “simple but effective” weapon for Russia.
On March 26, the U.K. Defense Ministry said that since the start of March, Russia had likely launched at least 71 Shahed strikes across Ukraine. Writing on Twitter, it said Moscow had likely received “regular resupplies” of the drones, after Ukraine’s military and Western analysts said Russia was running out of Shaheds.
Drone strikes had paused for two weeks in late February, the ministry added.
Russia likely launches the drones from two sites near the Ukrainian border, the British Defense Ministry said. They are likely sent into Ukraine from Russia’s Krasnodar Krai and Bryansk regions, according to the intelligence update.
The Shahed drones are often simple to shoot down if Ukrainian forces can detect them in time, experts have previously said.
“When you find them, you shoot them,” Uzi Rubin, of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security and the Begin Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, previously told Newsweek. However, “if you don’t see them, you can’t shoot them. And mostly you don’t see them,” he added. » …