There have been many reports of Ukrainian troops using small, off-the-shelf drones to successfully target Russian main battle tanks (MBTs) on the front lines.
The commercially-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been known to loiter over enemy positions and then drop enough ordnance to seriously damage or even disable the tanks.
Russia has lost thousands of tanks and other armored fighting vehicles since it launched its unprovoked invasion just over a year ago, and it appears that after all of that time, the Kremlin’s soldiers have finally learned to utilize the same tactics on the frontlines.
And with similar results.
What We Know
Earlier this week, a video circulated on social media showed an abandoned Ukrainian T-72B3 MBT – likely one that had been previously captured by Russian forces – was abandoned after running over an anti-tank mine.
The crew had apparently escaped to safety, but the tank couldn’t be recovered.
Russian forces were able to drop an F-1 anti-personnel hand grenade from a drone into the abandoned tank’s open hatch; taking the MBT out of service.
Video of the incident was shared via the Twitter account of Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) on Thursday.
Soviet Era Hand Grenade
It is unclear from the video how much damage the grenade may have done to the internal components and systems of the MBT, but the Soviet-era F-1 – based on the similar-sized French F1 grenade that was developed during the First World War – is reported to contain a 60-gram Trinitrotoluene explosive charge (TNT).
Due to its shape and yellow-green color, the Soviet-designed F-1 was nicknamed “Limonka” (Russian for “Little Lemon”) by Soviet soldiers. It is still known by that moniker today.
The Soviet grenade was first introduced during the Second World War but redesigned in the Cold War.
It has a notched/ribbed steel exterior that facilitates fragmentation upon detonation but also helps prevent it from slipping out of a soldier’s hand. Grenades are an ideal weapon to be carried by a drone, as fuse variants are available that provide delays between zero (instantaneous) and 13 seconds.
The F-1 has also been widely employed as a hidden “booby-trap” explosive.
The radius of the fragment dispersion is up to 200 meters (660 feet), and about 60 percent of the grenade body is pulverized during the explosion, while just 30 percent of the remaining body splits into roughly 290 high-velocity, sharp-edge splinters.
Each of those weighs around a gram and has an initial speed of about 700 m/s (2,300 feet-per-second).
Thus, while small, such ordnance would likely do significant damage to the interior of a tank – and would cause serious injury and more likely kill anyone inside.
Fortunately for the Ukrainian tank crew this week they had departed long before that grenade was dropped into the open hatch.
#Ukraine: A Ukrainian T-72B3 tank, previously damaged and abandoned after running over anti-tank mines, was subsequently destroyed by a F-1 hand grenade dropped from a Russian drone.https://t.co/Rx6hUY9IcX pic.twitter.com/APB4RX1Uxy
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 2, 2023
Author Experience and Expertise:
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
Donald j. Plump
March 5, 2023 at 9:13 am
All those blue colored links and I couldn’t find one that took me to the video being talked about. What a bunch of bullshit