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Bad News: Iran’s Drones are Back in the Ukraine War

Ukraine Russia
Russian Artillery Firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

On day 289 of the war, the Iranian-made drones have made a reappearance on the battlefield in Ukraine.

The Iranian Drones Return over Ukraine

Over the past few months, Iran has provided hundreds of tactical unmanned systems and loitering munitions to Russia.

These drones have helped the Russian military attack Ukrainian cities and strategic targets with ease. The use of Iranian drones has slowed down over the past month. But now it seems to be picking up again.

The British Military Intelligence assesses that the Russian forces have received a resupply of Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 loitering munitions from Iran. In the past couple of days, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that it shot down 17 Russian drones, including 14 Shahed-136 loitering munitions.

The Ukrainians are also reporting that Iranian-made drones are targeting Ukrainian forces in the south.

“The last previously reported shooting down of Iranian Shahed-136s in Ukraine was on 17 November 2022.

If verified, it is likely that Russia has recommenced attacks with newly delivered OWA [One-way Attack] UAV systems,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

Unmanned aerial systems are a cheap way to find, track, and attack an adversary. Both sides in the war in Ukraine are using them profusely. However, despite some reports to the contrary, drones haven’t been as effective as previously thought. The TB2 Bayraktar is a prime example of this.

The Ukrainian military had some success with the Turkish-made drone at the start of the war, but Russian air defenses quickly shot down the Ukrainian unmanned aerial systems.

And yet, the Ukrainians had recorded a lot of “kill footage” featuring the TB2 Bayraktar that they cleverly released in stages to magnify the drone’s reputation.

Russian Casualties: Update

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 93,390 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 281 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 264 attack and transport helicopters, 2,937 tanks, 1,926 artillery pieces, 5,912 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 395 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,531 vehicles and fuel tanks, 211 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,603 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 164 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 592 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

With this rate of casualties, the Russian military is up for losing 100,000 men by the end of the year.

Although in the past 24 hours, the casualty figures have eased up, the Russian forces have been losing an average of 500 killed every day for the past three weeks.

In November alone, the Russian forces lost more than 15,000 men killed.

Despite these horrific losses, the Russian military didn’t achieve anything significant.

To be sure, it managed to capture a few settlements to the north and south of Bakhmut in the Donbas. But other than that, the Russian forces don’t have anything else to show for the heavy casualties that they have suffered in the past weeks.

The Kremlin has made sure to provide commanders on the ground with more cannon fodder through its official and unofficial partial mobilizations.

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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.



  1. Scottfs

    December 9, 2022 at 11:15 pm

    Of course, Puppet Biden is falling all over himself to give $$$ to Iran while it supplies weapons to our ally Ukraine.

    Is Biden-Obama stupid? No. They love the mullahs, and love the corruption in Ukraine.

  2. TheDon

    December 10, 2022 at 12:15 am

    Bomb Iran factory with their own drones.
    Gee Mr Obvious, I didnt think of that.

  3. Tamerlane

    December 10, 2022 at 3:08 am

    Bad news? For whom? Not for the United States, or our allies (of which Ukraine is not one)… why is it bad the second most corrupt country in Europe has gotten more drones while their opponent, the most corrupt country in Europe has also gotten more drones? Do you mean it’s bad for everyone when foreign powers provide arms to belligerents and that it unnecessarily extends wars?

    What’s the Ukrainian casualty count up to now Stavros? The American armed forces know it’s easily over 100,000, surely you can source that info?

  4. Quartermaster

    December 10, 2022 at 7:30 pm

    It is unlikely Ukrainian casualties are even close to 100,000. That is an existential level of casualties for them and their Army would be near the point of complete dysfunctionality. Russia is already there.

    With the development of drones with long range ability in Ukraine, there are numerous targets that are in serious danger and would badly cripple Russia’s ability to supply its troops at all. The destruction of those targets would also make Russia’s ability to supply its domestic markets just as improbable.

  5. Doug

    December 11, 2022 at 9:30 am

    Russia is losing. Putin is one vodka away from resorting to tactical nukes and blaming it on someone else. Maybe then someone close to him will end him

  6. Tamerlane

    December 11, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    No Quartermaster, it is extremely likely that Ukrainian casualties exceed 100,000. They are already experiencing an existential level of casualties, and they would be indeed dysfunctional without direct American logistics/arming/command and control/live intelligence provision/and live targeting. They are our proxies, and we’re using them as such.

    Doug, once again, you’re swilling a little too much yuletide Ukrainian propaganda. Those of us who have worked on command staffs and participated in warfare are not convinced of this, nor that any replacement for Putin would not be substantially harder on the issue of Ukraine. Ukraine within NATO is a hard red line for Russians of all political stripes, just as Mexico in a ChiCom anti-American military alliance would be intolerable even for you and your fellow Democrats domestically.

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