Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces released footage of an American Switchblade loitering munition striking and destroying a Russian tank. The short video, which was recorded by the drone’s onboard camera system, was shared on Facebook and showed the Russian vehicle going up in smoke.
“Kamikaze drones Special Operations Forces are destroying the Russian occupiers!” the statement reads.
The official Ukrainian military account also described how Ukrainian troops have “developed skills” in operating the weapon.
The statement also described how Ukrainian soldiers saw Russian soldiers drinking alcohol at the position seen in the video, sitting on the tank.
“However, the usual Russian occupation was abruptly interrupted by an unexpected attack from the air,” the statement continues.
What We Can See
The 44-second-long clip starts (see below) with drone footage surveilling a Russian position, before zooming in and showing the Russian tank parked beside a tree.
The drone, which is designed to strike its target and explode on impact, shows footage right up until it hits the vehicle – giving viewers an extremely quick look at the Russian soldiers looking up at the drone in shock. The video then cuts to black.
Part of the footage also offers an additional view of the Kamikaze-style drone attack, recorded by a separate drone.
The Ukrainian Special Operations Forces also used the footage as an opportunity to mock Russian forces, who continue to experience significant setbacks in their invasion. A backing track of the Imperial March from Star Wars can be heard in the first half of the clip. As the clip ends on a still frame of Russian soldiers looking up at the drone that’s about to kill them, the video cuts to a “credits” section backed by the Curb Your Enthusiasm soundtrack.
How the Switchblade Drone Works
Given that the drone itself is the weapon, its camera was able to stream video footage to a ground control station showing the faces of Russian soldiers looking up at the munition that was about to kill them.
— Hiro’s gallery (@HiroGallery) May 24, 2022
Designed and manufactured by AeroVironment, the Switchblade is a loitering munition drone that explodes on impact. The Switchblade 300 drone, in use by the Ukrainians, is a portable all-in-one system that includes a winged unmanned aerial vehicle inside a tube that can be carried in a rucksack.
Troops launch the rocket by firing it out of the tube. As the drone leaves the tube, wings unfold and the drone becomes airborne. Once in the air, operators use the cameras to surveil the area and locate targets.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.