Conflicts & War

Iranian drones challenge Ukraine’s efficient air defenses

By Rostyslav Averchuk

Lviv, Ukraine, Sep 27 (EFE).- Although Ukrainian air defense forces are able to shoot down up to 70% of Russian missiles, they continue to face enemy attacks against key infrastructure by Russian forces, who are increasingly using Iranian-provided kamikaze drones.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian forces shot down three Iranian Shahed-136 drones in the southern city of Mykolaiv.

“Ukrainian forces are looking for effective methods of countering the drones and are gaining experience in doing so,” Ukraine’s Air Forces said in a statement, adding that the technical characteristics of the drones were being thoroughly looked into.

The drones, renamed by the Russian army to Geran 2, are solely used for targeted attacks and the explosives they carry detonate on impact.

The first documented use of such a drone in Ukraine occurred on September 13 in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, where Russian forces attempted to fend off a rapid Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Since then, the frequency of kamikaze drones has rapidly increased, with key infrastructure in Odesa, Mykolaiv and Dnipropetrovsk the main targets.

Other drone attacks near Ukrainian military equipment and artillery positions near the frontline have also been reported.

On Sunday, a kamikaze drone attack on the Odesa port damaged a building and killed at least one person. The day after, a military site was hit by two Shahed-136 drones in Odesa, leading to the detonation of ammunition.

While the drones do not have “high technical parameters,” they are still “a weapon” and present “a challenge” to the Ukrainian air defense system, according to the spokesman of Ukraine’s Air Forces, Yuriy Ignat.

Ignat added that the spike in Russian drone attacks coincided with the drop in the use of much more expensive missiles, which he said the Kremlin may be saving for attacks against key infrastructure.

But while drone attacks are a pressing issue, missile strikes remain a much larger threat, the spokesman said.

According to the spokesman of the Odesa regional military administration, countering the threats posed by drones is complicated because they are not easily visible and are often used in pairs or larger groups.

“The drone has a large explosive force with multiple little fragments scattering at quite a large distance,” Sergiy Bratchuk said on Tuesday, adding that taking shelter was the single most important thing that people on the ground could do to protect themselves from a drone attack.

Andriy Ryzhenko, military analyst at the Center for Defense Strategies, told Efe that the Ukrainian air defense, mainly based on reliable but old BUK, S-300 systems and fighter jets, had exceeded all expectations so far.

Its main achievement has been preventing Russia’s vastly more powerful aviation force from gaining control of Ukrainian skies, Ryzhenko said.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian army estimates that 261 Russian military planes and 224 helicopters have been shot down so far.

Ryzhenko said that this was a remarkable achievement, given that some Russian missiles were explicitly designed to overcome more modern air defense of Nato countries.

Ukraine’s old systems however do have their limitations and are being worn out, so modern systems are urgently needed, Ryzhenko urged. EFE


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