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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Russia Is Blasting Ukraine with Cruise Missiles and Kamikaze Drones

Tu-160 Bomber. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Tu-160 Bomber. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Is Russia Getting Desperate in Ukraine? Iranian drones and cruise missiles are some of the weapon systems the Russian military used in its salvo of terror in the past few days against Ukrainian cities. The war continues for the 231st day, and the Russian military is desperately pushing for some good news.

Iranian Drones and Russian Strike Capabilities

Yesterday, the Russian military unleashed another salvo of missile strikes across Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian General Staff, the Russian forces launched approximately 30 Kh-101 and Kh-55 cruise missiles from Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers against Ukrainian critical infrastructure across Ukraine. The Ukrainians claimed to have destroyed 21 cruise missiles.

But in addition to the cruise missiles, the Russian military launched several unmanned aerial vehicles, including types acquired recently from Iran. One of the most widely used was the Shahed-136, a one-way attack kamikaze drone.

According to the Ukrainian military, the Russian forces launched close to 90 Shahed-136 loitering munitions, with Ukrainian air defenses shooting down around 50 of the drones. The Shahed-136 is relatively slow (as most unmanned aerial systems are), thus making it a fairly easy target for conventional air defense weapon systems and even small arms fire. (Generally, there are two ways to deal with a drone: shoot it down or use electronic warfare means to either crash it or force it to land.)

But it seems that the Russian forces tried to overwhelm the Ukrainian air defenses by using dozens of drones at the same time, thus allowing some to slip through the Ukrainian defenses.

The Shahed-136 might have a very long operational range (allegedly more than 1,500 miles), but it can only carry a very small explosive payload, making the drone largely ineffective for operational or strategic strikes.

“With Russian tactical combat jets still achieving limited effect over Ukrainian territory, the lack of a reliable, sustainable, and accurate operational-level strike capability is likely one of Russia’s most significant capability gaps in Ukraine,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its daily estimate of the war in Ukraine.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine 

The Russian forces continue to suffer a steady stream of casualties in Ukraine while the first units with mobilized reservists are showing up to the front.

T-84 Ukraine

A T-84 tank from Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 63,380 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 268 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 235 attack and transport helicopters, 2,505 tanks, 1,507 artillery pieces, 5,181 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 355 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,927 vehicles and fuel tanks, 182 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,129 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 136 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 315 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.