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TB2, Switchblade and Punisher: Top 3 Drones Ukraine Is Using Against Russia

Switchblade
Switchblade drone that is used by Ukraine's forces against Russia. Image Credit: Industry handout.

3 Three Drones Ukraine Is Using Against the Russians – Whether it’s attacking enemy tanks and armored vehicles, conducting bomb damage assessment, or creating targeting data for friendly artillery, Ukraine has used drones to great effect. The Ukrainian military has utilized unmanned systems that launch anti-tank missiles, carry bomblets, or conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Video collected of successful combat strikes has been used on social media to show the world that Ukraine is mastering unmanned flight.

Let’s take a closer look at these drones to see how effective they are. Here are the three best remotely-piloted craft that Ukraine is deploying in the war.

Bayraktar TB2 Is Owning the Skies

The first drone that jumps out at you is the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 produced by the defense firm Baykar.

Founded in 1986, Baykar has 2,000 employees and has made several hundred drones over the years. The TB2 medium altitude long endurance combat drone has made Russia pay with numerous documented kills. The ground station of the TB2 has two terminals for controlling the technology and a base for launching.

The 21-foot long TB2 can autonomously take off and land with a full avionics suite onboard. It can fly at 18,000 to 25,000-feet for up to 27-hours. Its range is 185-miles. The TB2 has an auto-pilot feature – and the drone is not fully dependent on GPS – it has its own sensors.

Bayraktar TB2 Drone

Bayraktar TB2 Drone of the Ukrainian Air Force.

The TB2 carries four Smart Micro Munition laser-guided missiles. It has a lower radar cross-section that is allowing it to sneak through Russian air defenses.    

Switchblade Kamikaze Drones Blasting Russian Targets

The next drone is known for its “kamikaze” or suicide capability. This is the aptly named Switchblade. Also called loitering munitions, these tactical drones can be carried in rucksacks and released into the air by soldiers. There are two models that have different missions. The “300” is smaller and meant for anti-personnel attacks and the “600” is heavier with larger warheads intended to take out tanks and armored vehicles.

These drones take only minutes to launch. The drones can fly at least 100-miles per hour and the 600 model still weighs only 50-pounds. It can attack targets 24-miles away and loiter for 40-minutes. The interesting thing about the Switchblade is that its attack scheme can be called off if no target presents itself. The targeting is accomplished by GPS, or it can be manually controlled.

Switchblade Ukraine

Switchblade drone. Image Credit: Industry handout.

Homegrown Punisher Making Its Presence Known 

Punisher medium-sized drones are made in Ukraine and can take on three targets at once. They are being used to harass and interdict Russian supply lines, ammunition and supply depots, plus command and control centers. They can be launched after recovery and re-arming to hit the skies again in seven minutes.

It only flies at 44-miles per hour, but it has been able to sneak behind enemy lines with a 29-mile range. The Punisher operates at 1,300-foot altitude for three-hour-long missions with a 4.4-pound explosive payload.

The Punisher occupies a role between the larger-sized TB2 and the smaller-sized Switchblade. But the 7.5 feet-long Punisher has a disadvantage. The system relies on another drone called the Spectre to provide it with targeting data, which makes it more complicated to run.

Punisher Drone

Punisher Drone. Image Credit: Industry Handout.

Nevertheless, after receiving GPS location coordinates from the Spectre, it is “fire and forget,” automatically tracking its way to the enemy target.

Three-drone Package Is a Winner

The Ukrainians have surprised the Russians with these three drones. The invaders came into the war with high confidence in their anti-aircraft capabilities. They failed to integrate mobile air defenses in early armored columns that made easy pickings for the TB2 especially. One Ukrainian tactic is to destroy the lead tank and the most rearward tank and then watch the convoy become a parking lot. The Russians have woken up and adjusted procedures. They are beginning to shoot down the Ukrainian Bayraktar drone. 

But the defenders have dozens more in reserve. Plus, the Switchblade fits in nicely with its loitering capability for the front lines while the Punisher can attack in the rear. The three drones comprise an effective package of aerial tactics. The Russians were supposed to be the innovative side with modern drone warfare, but the Ukrainians are showing they can play a winning hand as well.

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.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Alex

    April 26, 2022 at 1:52 am

    What happens to these weapons? Let’s see what happened to him in just one day:

    Russian high-precision long-range weapons destroyed six traction substations in the areas of the Krasnoe, Zdolbunov, Zhmerinka, Berdichev, Kovel and Korosten railway stations.

    Through these points, the supply of foreign weapons and military equipment of the Ukrainian group of troops in the Donbas is carried out.

    In addition, during the day, Russian troops hit ten districts with missiles, where there were accumulations of manpower and equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and national battalions. Another 76 such places were hit by operational-tactical and army aviation of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

    Four command posts and two fuel depots were also destroyed. In addition, 27 Ukrainian military facilities were hit by high-precision air-launched missiles.

    In just one day. Russia is waiting for new goals.

  2. Audie Blechynden

    April 26, 2022 at 2:13 am

    The Ukrainian Army is stronger and better armed now than at the start of the war . Despite fake news by Paid Russians the Ukrainian army is stronger today than at the start of the war . The various drones are just one part of a vaste and expanding force being helped by much of the free world . Thank you on an informative and accurate article.

  3. Alex

    April 26, 2022 at 8:03 am

    Ukrainian strong army… :

    In total, since the start of the special military operation, Russia has destroyed 141 aircraft, 110 helicopters, 583 unmanned aerial vehicles, 269 anti-aircraft missile systems, 2,576 tanks and other armored combat vehicles, 287 multiple rocket launchers, 1,111 field artillery pieces and mortars, as well as 2,392 units of special military vehicles.
    Glory to the Ukrainians of Donbass! Thanks to Russia for not abandoning them and protecting them!

  4. CK

    April 26, 2022 at 10:43 am

    If someone wanted to know the truth about anything in Ukraine Alex, the last person they would go to is you.

    Paragraphs and paragraphs of bollocks, dubious claims about “independent journalists”, random documentarians, conspiracy theorists, deluded claims that of course, have no backup, lie after lie after lie.

    Classical Kremlin troll approach. Just flood the internet, the comments, the media, with tosh, doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure you write some old nonsense. Make sure to say the claim is supported by some dude in Germany, France, the states. If it’s a “documentary” (usually from youtube) then the better.

    Anything that victimises Russia, always the victim, always the bullied, never the problem. It’s always the Nazis. It’s always some pseudo-historical point.

    Anyone that has had the misfortune to study your “tactics” sees the forest for the trees, the pattern of lies, disinformation, blanketing of random claims, deflection, obfuscation, and other words beyond your vocabulary.

    It’s hopeless Alex. Your lies are as short as your intellect. What a pathetic job, to sit in your government shed, spreading your pathetic, government lies.

    A pathetic job for a truly pathetic man. A better match could not be made in heaven.

  5. Alex

    April 29, 2022 at 9:11 am

    If someone wants to know the truth about the civil war in the Donbass, about all the atrocities of the Bandera clean-ups and why Russia was forced to intervene, then it is better to watch films by independent journalists. There are already many such journalists who fight for truth and freedom. For example, a documentary by the German journalist Wilhelm Domcke-Schulz.

    A documentary film about the war crimes of the Bandera Nazis during the period of Russia’s special military operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine is in production. It will be a real information bomb, where the war crimes of Bandera Nazis will be shown and proved.

    The documentary “Remember Odessa” tells how the Bandera Nazis burned Ukrainians alive and other heinous war crimes.

    The documentary “To Live and Die in Donbass” tries to fill this gaping information gap in the West. He looks into the tormented soul of the inhabitants of Donbass, who really want only one thing – to live self-determining according to their own rules and values. Not submitting to foreign forces and ideologies.

    In the east of Ukraine, in the Donbass, a war has been raging since the beginning of 2014. A civil war that claimed more than 15,000 lives over the years, including several hundred children. They had to die, because the national-fascist coup government in Kyiv, funded by the West, trained and militarily heavily armed, would not tolerate any resistance to their illegitimate rule, no matter the cost.

    Therefore, in April 2014, the putschists deployed the Ukrainian army, supported by dozens of right-wing extremist volunteer battalions, and have since bombed city centers, residential areas, schools, hospitals and infrastructure, killing civilians.

    This perennial crime has gone completely unnoticed by the Western public. Politicians and the media avoid this topic and reports about how the devil pours holy water. Because a public discussion about the crimes of the Ukrainian regime would reveal only one thing – with what mass murderers and terrorists the so-called “west of values” in Ukraine has a common language, if only to defend their goals and interests.

    Lend-lease is a commodity loan, and not cheap: for all the ammunition, equipment and food supplied by the United States, many future generations of Ukrainian citizens will pay. Zelensky is driving the country into a debt hole.

  6. CK

    April 29, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    Ah, I see your tactic. You add a little shitty first paragraph so it doesn’t detect your duplicate post. Is this what it has come to now, you just posting the same exact post 2, 3, 4, 5 times per article?

    Wow, did they run out of paper in Russia, Alex? You guys can’t print new material? Literally using the same lines, over and over again, and now in duplicate in every post!

    Are you so defeated you can’t even come up with anything new? How sad. Now the idiot is talking about lend-lease at the end of his post, because he literally just copy + pasted it from another thread, with zero relevance to this one.

    Here’s a reminder:

    If someone wanted to know the truth about anything in Ukraine Alex, the last person they would go to is you.

    Paragraphs and paragraphs of bollocks, dubious claims about “independent journalists”, random documentarians, conspiracy theorists, deluded claims that of course, have no backup, lie after lie after lie.

    Classical Kremlin troll approach. Just flood the internet, the comments, the media, with tosh, doesn’t matter what it is, just make sure you write some old nonsense. Make sure to say the claim is supported by some dude in Germany, France, the states. If it’s a “documentary” (usually from youtube) then the better.

    Anything that victimises Russia, always the victim, always the bullied, never the problem. It’s always the Nazis. It’s always some pseudo-historical point.

    Anyone that has had the misfortune to study your “tactics” sees the forest for the trees, the pattern of lies, disinformation, blanketing of random claims, deflection, obfuscation, and other words beyond your vocabulary.

    It’s hopeless Alex. Your lies are as short as your intellect. What a pathetic job, to sit in your government shed, spreading your pathetic, government lies.

    A pathetic job for a truly pathetic man. A better match could not be made in heaven.

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