Ukraine’s Army shot down several Russia-launched, Iran-made Shahed-136 drones using air defense systems supplied by Poland.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valeriy Zaluzhnyi confirmed in a Telegram post on Tuesday that 9 out of 11 Shahed-136 UAVs had been destroyed over the past 48 hours. He added that the anti-aircraft missile unit was using Polish-made systems and credited Poland’s “high-quality” training.
“I’m grateful to our Polish brothers!” Zaluzhnyi wrote.
In a statement on Facebook, Ukraine's military specified that Moscow used Shahed-136 UAVs in strikes launched from the territory of Belarus' and the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia.
Russia bought 2,400 Shahed UAVs from Iran: Zelenskyy
In his speech that was published on an official government website, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claimed Russia ordered 2,400 Shahed-136 UAVs. In Moscow, the drone is designated by the name “Geran-2.”
“According to our intelligence, Russia ordered 2,400 Shaheds from Iran,” Zelenskyy’s statement reads.
The Shahed-136 loitering munition, also called kamikaze" or "suicide" drone, waits around the target area until instructed to attack. When it then flies towards the target, it detonates an explosive payload on impact.
Manufactured by state-owned Iran Aircraft Manufacturing Company, this UAV weighs 200kg and has a wingspan of 2.5m. The UK Ministry of Defense has claimed that the Shahed-136 has a range of 2,500 km.
“The presence of Shahed-136 in (the) Ukraine war is undoubtedly changing the operational plans of Kyiv,” founder and chief executive of strategic consulting firm Red Six Solutions Scott Crino told The Wall Street Journal in September. “Once a Shahed locks onto target, it will be hard to stop,” he said.
Ukraine military spokeswoman Nataliya Houmeniouk told AFP last month that Shahed-136 UAVs are "very difficult to detect because they fly very low. But they make a lot of noise, like a chainsaw or a scooter,” which means that they can be heard from afar.
Ukrainians who have witnessed Shahed-136 attacks say they make a recognizable noise, and have described them as sounding like “motorbikes” in the air, while some soldiers have taken to calling it “the flying lawnmower.”
As per reports, a unit of Shahed-136 costs only $20,000; very cheap in comparison to the 84 missiles fired by Russia on October 10 that cost anywhere from an estimated $300,000 to $13 million each.
While the drones have wreaked havoc across Ukraine, soldiers say they are vulnerable to small arms fire.
“This is a primitive handmade product… It's not a high-tech conveyor-belt production like the [Turkish-made] Bayraktar or American and Israeli UAVs,” Yuriy Ignat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, told Radio Free Europe (RFE) last week.
Shahed-136 contains Western-made components including ones from Poland
Remains of a Shahed-136 which partially exploded in an attack in southern Ukraine last week contained a fuel pump manufactured in Poland by a division of Oxford-based TI Fluid Systems, a multi-national vehicle parts manufacturer; and electronics such as circuit boards and microchips manufactured by American giant Texas Instruments (TI), reports inews.co.uk.
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by either company. The components found in the Iranian drones is widely available in European and other markets and is not subject to export bans or so-called dual-use restrictions.
A TI circuit board pictured by Ukrainian police can be purchased from numerous websites for $14. This particular microchip – a digital signal processor used for applications including radar and telecommunications – is a technology dating back to the 1980s. Other components of the Shahed-136, including its engine, are available on China-based e-commerce websites.
Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said that Iran would not have been able to independently produce these kamikaze drones. “There are certain components of certain countries. We are now figuring out how they ended up there and why the country that was under sanctions had the ability to buy those things that 100% belong to the military-industrial complex,” Danilov said.