Russia has renamed the Shahed-136 the Geran-2. Iran denies providing Russia with drones to use in its war on Ukraine.
Drones are part of a class of weapons known as “loitering munitions” — meaning they are “designed to loiter over the battlefield” looking for targets such as radar, Ingvild Bode, an associate professor at the Center for War Studies at the University of Southern Denmark, previously told The Washington Post. . “When they found their target, [they] Throw yourself into it. That’s why the term “Kamikaze” is often used for weapons like this and the US-made Switchblade drone.
Shahed-136s are generally less destructive than precision missiles due to their unique humming sound as they approach – civilians can see and hear them coming, so they have more time to seek out before any explosions occur shelter. Unlike larger missiles, they have a smaller blast radius and don’t necessarily fire shrapnel in all directions.
But they could also bypass Ukraine’s air defenses — or force the military to use its limited air defense resources to take out targets before they hit them.
How does Russia use them?
Drones are increasingly being used by Russian troops seeking an advantage on the battlefield. U.S. and allied officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security, told The Washington Post that Iran has recently started shipping drones and other weapons to Russia and has sent technical advisers to train Russian troops on how to operate them. Pentagon officials have publicly confirmed the use of Iranian drones in Russian airstrikes.
Ukraine believes that Russia has ordered as many as 2,400 kamikaze drones from Iran. In response, Kyiv urged its allies to send in advanced air defense systems.
Iran plans to send missiles, drones to Russia in response to Ukraine war, officials say
Russia has primarily used kamikaze drones to attack military and infrastructure targets in southern Ukraine. According to the British Ministry of Defence, its forces first deployed Shahed-136 in northeastern Ukraine in September. The ministry argued in its latest intelligence that the use of the weapons near the front line showed that “Russia is trying to use the system for tactical strikes, rather than targeting more strategic targets deeper into Ukrainian territory.”
Since mid-September, Ukrainian forces have claimed they have shot down Iranian-made drones across Ukraine. “Every 10 minutes, I get a message about the enemy’s use of Iranian Shaheds,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video conference with G7 leaders last week.
Photos: The moment a kamikaze drone hits central Kyiv
This led Kyiv to lower diplomatic relations with Tehran. Zelensky called the partnership between Russia and Iran “cooperation with evil,” while Tehran accused Kyiv of overreacting based on “unconfirmed reports” and “hype by foreign media.”
On Monday, drones were used for the first time to strike central Kyiv in what appeared to be an attempt to target the thermal power station that powers the capital. At least four people were killed in the blast, officials said. Zelensky’s senior adviser Mikhailo Podoljak, blame Iran Or “responsible for the murder of the Ukrainian”.
How does Ukraine use them?
The United States has pledged to send more than 700 of its own kamikaze drones, called Switchblade, to Ukraine, and in April trained some Ukrainian soldiers on how to use them.
With its slim fuselage and ruler-shaped wings, the Switchblade drone differs in appearance from the Shahed-136, which looks like a miniature delta-wing fighter jet. But the idea behind both weapons is the same: allowing remote operators to take out targets and evade detection and air defenses with lethal efficiency.
Ukraine has also deployed Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones and claims to have used them to destroy numerous Russian military targets. That drone was so popular in Ukraine that a Ukrainian soldier released a song for it.
Separately, the Guardian reported that two Ukrainians last week raised $9.6 million to buy Ukraine’s RAM II drone, which can carry an explosive payload of more than 6.5 pounds.
Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima and Shane Harris contributed to this report.