Small commercial drones are already changing the way wars are being fought – and these low-cast platforms have proven to be among the most effective anti-tank weapons of the modern era.
In addition to being effective at targeting enemy armor, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are also chronicling the destruction in a way that was previously not possible.
These videos have proven to be effective propaganda tools – as the “war porn” footage is carefully edited and accompanied by upbeat music.
Such was the case with a video shared by Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) on Thursday afternoon. In the 18-second-long clip, three Russian tanks are seen being targeted – with two destroyed and another damaged in recent fighting. The footage was reportedly filmed by the Ukrainian SBU “Alpha” unit, the elite Ukrainian Spetsnaz group and branch of the nation’s Security Service, which has been operating in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Military Rockstars
As previously reported, the Ukrainian Army’s Alpha Group played a key role in the defense of Kharkiv and later took part in Ukraine’s counteroffensive that recaptured several settlements including Kupiansk. It has also conducted operations to capture fifth columnists, Russian sympathizers, spies, and infiltrators – while the unit has even become de facto social media “rock stars” for their drone attacks on Russian vehicles.
The elite forces regularly employ drones and loitering munitions to seek out targets of opportunity and then strike with deadly precision. It then edits the videos, adds some local electronic dance music (EDM), and shares the videos as a way to highlight their exploits.
It is also helping some Ukrainian EDM artists share their music with a potential audience around the world. One irony is that before the war, Kyiv was noted for having one of the best techno music scenes in Eastern Europe and Ukrainian artists were popular with Russian listeners. Today, the war has broken any ties, and some artists expect that it is unlikely to ever be mended.
Even Fewer Russian Tanks
The video also highlighted the destruction of two, and perhaps three more Russian tanks – perhaps a drop in the bucket as the Kremlin may have had as many as 10,000 to 12,000 tanks in storage before it launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine more than 16 months ago.
However, it has lost many of its best tanks, including dozens if not more T-90s, and hundreds of the most updated models of its T-72s. Though not considered among the best of the best, the Kremlin had around 480 T-80s of all models in service prior to the invasion, and many have been upgraded.
It was actually the last tank developed in the Soviet Union – it was a derivative of the T-64 that featured some elements from the T-72. Meant to be an evolutionary step forward, it also proved to be more complex to produce, operate and maintain. When it entered service in 1976, it was the second MBT in the world to be equipped with a gas turbine engine, after the Swedish Stridsvagn 103, and the first production tank to use it as a main propulsion engine.
It was never a great tank, but now it may appear that Russia has at least one fewer T-80 in service. No doubt, somewhere in Ukraine, someone is dancing to that fact!
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.