Ukraine’s Bayraktar TB2 Drone More Than Pulling Its Weight Against Russia – The Ukrainians have a public relations and information warfare bonanza on their hands. The Bayraktar TB2 combat drone has earned its spurs in the skies over Ukraine – thrilling the operators while taking out tanks and artillery pieces – plus other armored vehicles.
The Ukrainian military has released numerous black and white videos that appear to come from the Bayraktar’s camera. This footage shows the drone’s missiles hitting paydirt in spectacular explosions that then go viral. The unmanned vehicle looks to continue to bring the fight to the Russians and make their invasion even more costly.
Additional Targets Beyond Armored Vehicles
If the videos on social media are indeed authentic, it is evidence that the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 is playing an expanding role in the war. New footage is showing the drone attacking bridges and Russian command and control centers, not just tanks and armored vehicles.
Positive Psychological Effects of Successful Drone Strikes
Military analysts have noticed that the drone’s success can give a boost to Ukrainian morale and also dismay and frustrate the Russians due to their failures in air defense.
Time interviewed Arda Mevlütoğlu, a Turkish military and aerospace analyst. He replied that the “footage released by the Ukraine military shows serious defects in Russian air defense cover, which is a surprise for many observers. The footage is also very useful for public relations and psychological warfare.”
The Russians are continuing to use unprotected convoys of support and logistics vehicles to supply the front lines and the Bayraktar TB2 is eliminating these trucks that are carrying fuel, ammunition, and food.
Bayraktar Drones Are Popular Around the World
The Ukrainians have an estimated 50 drones that they have bought since 2019. They are made by Turkish defense firm Baykar Technology and more of the combat drones have been ordered by the Ukrainians since the invasion. 16 countries have bought the unmanned vehicle.
The Bayraktar carries four Smart Micro Munition laser-guided missiles. It can remain in the air for up to 30 hours and flies at altitudes from 18,000 to 25,000 feet. The range of the drone is 185 miles. It’s not a fast aircraft, flying at only 80 miles per hour. It has two different kinds of cameras plus laser range-finders and laser pointer.
The Unmanned Vehicles Have Survivability
Surprisingly, the drones have not been as detectable to Russian air defenses. As Saikiran Kannan of India Today has described it, “Key aspects like low visibility and detectability, thanks to the low radar cross-section values of the TB2 and the ability to have the datalink complexes stay below the electromagnetic jamming envelopes of principal Russian electronic warfare systems like Krasukha-4, have made the TB2 drones slick and agile,” Kannan wrote.
The Bayraktar is having success, but the Ukrainians need more of the drones. Additional operators must be trained to pilot the aircraft. New units will likely be deployed around Kyiv and other besieged cities.
While drones have been utilized by the United States for targeted assassinations against individual leaders during the war on terror, this is one of the first times, outside the Azerbaijan and Armenia matchup in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, that unmanned conflict has been decisive in mechanized maneuver war.
Are Tanks Becoming Obsolete?
This is a significant development in 21st-century warfare, and it is making the use of main battle tanks almost obsolete as they struggle against anti-armor portable missiles and drone strikes. The Russians will have to improve their performance of early warning radar and anti-aircraft systems to reduce the effectiveness against drone attacks. But it appears now that the Bayraktar is winning.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.