What are kamikaze drones? Russia and Ukraine use it in the war

Suspension

This week, Russia struck deep into Ukraine and struck the capital, Kyiv, with kamikaze drones. These small and noisy airborne devices are designed to strike from a distance. They are smart enough to avoid many air defense systems.

Unlike many other attack drones, they do not use weapons to destroy their targets. They are the weapon.

The kamikaze planes used by Russia are believed to be imported from Iran. They are both “military weapons and psychological weapons at once,” said Samuel Bendet, a Russian military analyst with the Virginia-based research group CNA. “Attacks on major cities that are supposed to be well defended against air threats show that Russia still has the ability to do damage, whether military or civilian targets are hit.”

But drone attacks have already become a regular feature of the war in Ukraine, with both sides using deadly drones in different ways.

What are kamikaze drones?

Ukrainian and US officials say the drones, deployed by Russia, were made in Iran, where they are known as Shahid-136. It is designed to hit specific targets with explosives that can be released At distances of up to 1500 miles.

Russia has renamed Shahid-136 to Jeeran-2. Iran denies giving Russia drones to use in its war against Ukraine.

Drones are part of a class of weapons known as lounging munitions — which means they are “designed to loiterate on battlefields,” looking for targets such as radars, Engfield Bode, associate professor at the Center for the Studies of War, a research group within the University of Southern Denmark, He previously told the Washington Post. “When they find the target, [they] launch themselves on it.”


Simple and killer:

Shahid-136 attack drone

Developed and manufactured by the Iranian government, this drone is designed to roam over potential targets before it drops like a bomb.

The nose contains an explosive warhead as well as optical sensors

Length: 11 feet

its wings: 8 feet

the above. Speed:

115 mph

Approximately. Weight:

440 pounds

Domain: Around

1100 – 1500 miles

William Neve / The Washington Post

Simple and Lethal: Shahed-136 . Attack Drone

Developed and manufactured by the government-

Controlled by Iran’s Aircraft Industry Corporation, this modestly sized drone is designed to roam over potential targets before dropping like a bomb.

The nose contains an explosive warhead as well as optical sensors

Length: 11 feet

its wings: 8 feet

the above. Speed:

115 mph

Approximately. Weight:

440 pounds

Domain: Around

1100 – 1500 miles

William Neve / The Washington Post

Simple and Lethal: Shahed-136 . Attack Drone

Developed and manufactured by the Iranian government, this drone is designed to roam over potential targets before it drops like a bomb.

The nose contains an explosive warhead as well as optical sensors

Length: 11 feet

its wings: 8 feet

the above. Speed: 115 mph

Approximately. Weight: 440 pounds

Domain: about 1100–

1500 miles

William Neve / The Washington Post

Simple and Lethal: Shahed-136 . Attack Drone

Developed and manufactured by the Iranian government, this drone is designed to roam over potential targets before it drops like a bomb.

The nose contains an explosive warhead as well as optical sensors

Length: 11 feet

its wings: 8 feet

the above. Speed: 115 mph

Approximately. Weight: 440 pounds

Domain: about 1100–

1500 miles

William Neve / The Washington Post

The term “kamikaze” is often applied to weapons such as the American Switchblade drones, in reference to the military pilots who carried out suicide attacks for the Japanese Empire during World War II. Unlike those planes, these new weapons are unmanned.

Ulrike Esther Franke, a senior political fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said kamikaze drones are regularly used in other conflicts, including the recent wars between Azerbaijan and Armenia. In those conflicts, the Azerbaijani forces used the Harop drones developed by Israel, which are similar to the Shahed-136 in size and capabilities.

However, the scale of use by Russia and reports that it has purchased an arsenal in the thousands “makes this relatively unique,” Frank added.

Because of the distinctive buzzing sounds they make when approaching, Shahed-136 are usually less destructive than precision missiles—civilians can see and hear them coming, so they have more time to seek shelter before an explosion. Some Ukrainians called them “scooters” because of these noisy engines.

And unlike large missiles, their blast radius is smaller and does not necessarily cause shrapnel to fly in every direction.

But they could also bypass Ukraine’s air defenses — or force the military to use its limited air defense resources to neutralize them before they can hit their target.

How does Russia use it?

Russian forces seeking to gain an advantage on the battlefield are increasingly using drones. US and allied officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security issues, did He told the newspaper Iran recently began delivering drones and other weapons to Russia, and sending technical advisers to train Russian forces on how to operate them. Pentagon officials have publicly confirmed the use of Iranian drones in Russian air strikes.

Ukraine believes that Russia ordered up to 2400 kamikaze drones from Iran. In response, Kyiv urged its allies to send advanced air defense systems.

Russia has its own weapons industry, and for some experts, it is noteworthy that Moscow must rely on Tehran for the drone industry. Douglas Barry of the International Institute for Strategic Studies He wrote in a recent analysis.

Officials say Iran is planning to send missiles and drones to Russia for the Ukraine war

But the attacks in Kyiv showed value in kamikaze drones, even if they were purchased from abroad.

“Many in Russia called for mass strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure months ago to slow the progress of the Ukrainian military,” Bendet said. “These cheap and expendable aircraft offer a simple solution.”

“These systems allow Russia to terrorize Ukrainians at low cost and away from the front lines,” Franky said. “While fighting these drones is by no means the most difficult task, it is difficult to do it everywhere at once.”

Russia has largely used kamikaze drones to attack military targets and infrastructure in southern Ukraine. Its forces first deployed the Shahid-136 to northeastern Ukraine in September, according to the British Ministry of Defense. In an intelligence update, the department argued that the use of weapons near the front lines indicated that “Russia is trying to use the system to conduct tactical strikes rather than targeting more distant strategic targets within Ukrainian territory.”

Since mid-September, Ukrainian forces have claimed to have shot down Iranian-made drones in different parts of Ukraine. Speaking via video link to G7 leaders last week, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said:Every 10 minutes I receive a message about the enemy’s use of Iran’s martyrs.

In pictures: The moment kamikaze drones hit central Kyiv

This has led Kyiv downgrades its diplomatic relations with Tehran. While Zelensky described the partnership between Russia and Iran as “cooperation with evil.” Tehran accused Kyiv of overreacting Based on “unconfirmed reports” and “media hype by third parties”.

Drones were used for The first time to hit the center of Kyiv On Monday, in what appeared to be an attempt to target a thermal power plant that supplies the capital. Officials said at least four people were killed in the blasts. Mykhailo Podolyak, Zelensky’s Senior Adviser, Iran accused Being “responsible for the murders of Ukrainians”.

Russia struck Kyiv with kamikaze drones on October 17, a week after it launched deadly attacks across Ukraine. (Video: The Washington Post)

How does Ukraine use it?

The United States pledged to send Ukraine 700 kamikaze dronesCall bladesAnd the I trained some Ukrainian soldiers In April about how to use it.

With its thin body and ruler-shaped wings, the Switchblade drone differs in appearance from the Shahd-136, which looks like a small Delta-winged fighter aircraft. But the idea behind the two weapons is the same: to allow a remote operator to take out a target with lethal efficiency and evade detection and air defense.

One of the main differences between the Shahed-136 and the Switchblades is the range, with the US aircraft having a maximum range of 25 miles.

Ukraine also uses the indigenously developed RAM II kamikaze UAV, Partially funded by crowdsourcing. This drone also has a smaller range, at only 18 miles, and production has been hampered by supply issues.

Drones that do not use kamikazes have proven important for Ukraine as well. Ukraine has also deployed and claims to have Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones Destroy many Russian military targets With the aircraft’s laser-guided missile attack system. That drone is so popular in Ukraine that a Ukrainian soldier even released a song in its honor.

Joby, Eric, Elaine Nakashima and Shane Harris contributed to this report.

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