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.
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 Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.