On October 26, Ukraine used a Bayraktar TB2 unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in the combat zone in the Donbas. The strike drone was deployed at the order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Valeriy Zaluzhny, to suppress the battery of D-30 howitzers of the Russian occupation forces, which were targeting Ukrainian positions. Read in this InformNapalm feature why the strike inflicted limited damage on the enemy’s personnel, whether the Russian electronic warfare (EW) assets counteracted the drone, as well as the analysis of the video.
With a kind word and a Bayraktar one can get much further than with a kind word alone
It became known that the Ukrainian military had to deploy the Bayraktar TB2 strike UCAV only after all other diplomatic means to stop the shelling were tried and failed.
A video and details of this event appeared on the official Facebook page of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
“From 14:25 to 15:15 a battery of D-30 howitzers of the Russian hybrid forces fired at positions of the Joint Forces in the area of Hranitne village. Two servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were wounded during the shelling, one of them died. With the beginning of the shelling, a demand for an immediate ceasefire was put forward through the OSCE SMM, and a note was sent through diplomatic channels. However, the invaders did not react. With the aim of forcing the enemy to cease the fire, by order of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, a Bayraktar was deployed. The unmanned aerial vehicle did not cross the line of contact; with a guided bomb it engaged one cannon and its crew of the Russian occupation forces. After that, the shelling of the Ukrainian positions ceased.”
Analysis of the UAV footage
Volunteers of InformNapalm intelligence community noticed that after a high-precision strike on one of the D-30 howitzers, the servicemen of the Russian occupation forces fled from the point of impact. This is indicative of the use of the least powerful type of munition available for the Bayraktar TB2 UCAV, probably the MAM-C. This type of smart munition has a choice of warheads: multipurpose (with incendiary and armor-piercing warhead) or high-explosive fragmentation. If a high-explosive fragmentation warhead was used, the Russian military men would have received grave or fatal injuries.
It is also possible that a training version of the MAM-C or MAM-L guided bombs could have been used for the first combat deployment. In June 2021, Defense Express reported that the Ukrainian Army had purchased numerous MAM-L and MAM-C guided bombs of various modifications from the Turkish partners. It was also noted that Ukrspetsexport imported MAM-L and MAM-C training bombs worth $640,000, which are intended for use during ground tests and training flights.
Precision MAM-C and MAM-L ammunition for Bayraktar TB2.
Photo by: Defense Express
In July, a Bayraktar TB2 UCAV, equipped with MAM-C guided munitions, participated in the Sea Breeze-2021 exercise carrying out patrolling missions in the war games area and over the Black Sea.
Before that, there were numerous trainings and tests of the system. Here is a video from May 2021 showing a training deployment of a Bayraktar TB2 UCAV and a Javelin ATGM.
Were Russian electronic warfare systems used against the Bayraktar TB2?
It is known that a significant number of modern Russian signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic warfare (EW) assets are located in the combat zone. On the basis of its own OSINT investigations and OSCE SMM reports, InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community has identified at least 12 types of Russian EW equipment types in the period from 2014 to 2021. All of these systems are included in the facts database of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.
From time to time, OSCE SMM reports that the drones of the monitoring mission in the combat zone and over the occupied territory experience significant radio interference.
Were the same or other Russian EW assets involved in covering the battery of D-30 howitzers? Did the Russians expect an air strike from a Ukrainian drone in the specified area? Such data are not yet available, so it is too early to draw conclusions about the complete invulnerability of the Bayraktar TB2 in the face of Russian EW systems. However, Russian EW and air defense systems showed their low effectiveness against the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs both in Nagorno-Karabakh and during military operations in Syria and Libya. The issue of Bayraktar’s resistance to the impact of EW systems needs further research and follow-up observations of the actual combat deployments in the east of Ukraine.
For the first time, the Ukrainian Army demonstrated operational capabilities of the Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs, as well as humane treatment of the enemy’s personnel. However, Russian occupation forces will probably misjudge such a gesture of goodwill and will continue provocative shelling of Ukrainian positions. At the same time, international diplomatic community, Ukraine’s partners and allies should appreciate such a restrained and effective use of force by the Ukrainian side.
We could reasonably expect that the military command and political leadership of the Russian Federation will also order the use of its own strike UAVs in the Donbas. Some of them were first tested in the fall during the Zapad-2021 maneuvers. They could also try to demonstrate their technical capabilities in some other way.
In any case, the use of a strike UAV by the Ukrainian military sent real shock waves among the Russian militants and their leadership. Now Russian telegram channels affiliated with the Russian occupation forces in Ukraine as well as with the Russian intelligence are full of messages about Ukraine taking into account the experience of Azerbaijan in the war for Nagorno-Karabakh, and that the use of strike drones was only a matter of time.
Back in April 2021, InformNapalm volunteers pointed out that Russian military observers and the media were paying special attention to Ukraine’s increasing combat capabilities through purchases of Turkish strike drones. Apparently, Bayraktar TB2 drones in service with the Ukrainian Armed Forces contain Russian forces in the combat zone much better than any “deep concern.” As the saying goes – “With a kind word and a Bayraktar one can get much further than with a kind word alone”.
Read more related material from InformNapalm
- Proofs of the Russian Aggression: InformNapalm releases extensive database of evidence
- Volunteers gathered evidence of 32 Russian military units taking part in the invasion of Crimea
- Advanced Russian EW system Navodchik-2 spotted in Donbas for the first time
- Ukraine armed with Bayraktar TB2 is a better deterrent than “deep concern”
- Exposed: 40 Russian military men of 15th Brigade participated in the aggression against Ukraine (Infographics)
- By end of year, Russia plans to set up tewnty new military units near its western borders
- Trench warfare: Russia continues to deploy snipers in Donbas (photos)
By Roman Burko specially for InformNapalm. Translated by Artem Velichko. Distribution and reprint with reference to the source is welcome! (Creative Commons — Attribution 4.0 International — CC BY 4.0)
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