Iranian drones: source of new threat to Ukraine Armed Forces

    WORLD  27 September 2022 - 11:46

    It was a little over a week ago that Iranian drones first began appearing in the skies over Ukraine.

    Andriana Arekhta, a junior sergeant with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said the drones flew from Crimea to attack her special forces unit fighting near the southern city of Kherson, writes Politico. The drones evaded the soldiers’ defences and dropped bombs on their position, destroying two tanks with their crews inside.

    “It’s very difficult to see these drones on radars,” said Arekhta, who travelled to Washington, DC, last week as part of a delegation of female Ukrainian soldiers. “It’s a huge problem.”

    Over the past week, Russia has deployed Shahed and Mohajer combat drones imported from Iran in greater numbers across Ukraine, with devastating results. Some hit combat positions, smashing tanks and armoured vehicles, while others struck civilian infrastructure, including in the port city of Odesa.

    In his nightly address on September 23, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his country’s anti-aircraft forces had shot down more than a dozen drones in the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region and Odesa. The Ukrainian Air Force identified them as Shahed-136 kamikaze drones and Mohajer-6 drones that carry munitions and can also be used for reconnaissance.

    But in interviews, a Ukrainian activist and three soldiers said the Iranian drones pose a major threat to both fighters and civilians. Their arrival on the battlefield makes the need for the West to send additional modern weaponry even more urgent, as Kyiv tries to seize on recent gains to retake as much territory as possible before winter sets in, they said.

    The Iranian drones appear to be a potential game-changer for the Russians. They are relatively small and fly at low altitudes, evading Ukrainian radars. Arekhta said she could shoot them down with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, but only during the day because the US-provided weapons do not come with a night-vision system.

    Ukraine needs modern air defences, such as the Counter-Rocket, Artillery and Mortar systems the U.S. used in Afghanistan, and 360-degree radar to counter the new threat, the visiting group said.

    “I need to be in position against Russian helicopters on one side and Iranian drones came from another side,” Arekhta said. “It’s very hard to close the huge area with Stingers, with other weapons that can hit these drones.”

    Arekhta uses the Switchblade 300 drones provided by Washington, but they are essentially commercial systems that are not powerful enough to work against armoured vehicles and artillery, she said. Ukraine needs the upgraded Switchblade 600 drones, a loitering munition she described as “a flying Javelin.”

    Washington has contracted with manufacturer AeroVironment to send the 600 version, but they likely won’t arrive for many months.

    Caliber.Az

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