What is a kamikaze drone?
(The Hill) – Ukrainian officials said Russia killed at least four people Monday by detonating a so-called kamikaze drone in Kyiv, the latest apparent use of the unmanned explosive device.
Officials suggested the attack — one of 28 drones aimed at the Ukrainian capital on Monday — appeared to involve an Iranian Shahed-136 drone, with video showing a plane rapidly colliding with its target in the center of the city city lowered.
“All night and all morning the enemy terrorizes the civilian population. Kamikaze drones and missiles attack all of Ukraine. A residential building was hit in Kyiv,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy wrote on Telegram.
Monday’s strikes aren’t the first time Ukraine has accused Russia of using Iranian technology. Officials say Russia has often used kamikaze drones in recent days to attack targets far from the war’s frontlines and terrorize civilians.
Tehran denies supplying the drones, a position disputed by both Ukraine and the US
How kamikaze drones work
The nickname of the Shahed-136, also commonly used for US Switchblade drones and other similar systems, comes from Japanese military pilots who flew suicide missions to attack Allied naval ships during World War II.
The unmanned triangular drone is known for loitering in the air until it determines its target, then quickly descends to the ground and detonates. Russia has reportedly renamed the system Geran-2.
Ukrainian online publication Defense Express, citing Iranian data, reported that the Shahed-136 is about 11 feet long, has a wingspan of about 8 feet and weighs about 440 pounds.
The data reportedly shows the drone can travel up to about 185 miles per hour and fly up to about 1,500 miles, though the publication expressed skepticism about Iran’s estimates.
The British Ministry of Defense has also confirmed the reported range, despite its intelligence reports suspect that the drone has only a small explosive payload.
British intelligence reports indicate that the drones are slow and fly at low altitudes, making them vulnerable to damage from conventional air defenses.
A video posted by Oleksiy Biloshytskiy, head of Ukraine’s patrol police, appears to show Ukrainians shooting down one of the Iranian drones fired at Kyiv on Monday.
“It is unlikely to satisfactorily perform the deep strike function for which Russia was likely aspired,” according to a British intelligence report released last week.
How Ukraine and the US are reacting
The White House warned of Iranian drone sales to Moscow in July, and Biden administration officials confirmed in late August that the first shipment of drones had arrived in Russia.
Iran has denied supplying the drones, but White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday accused Tehran of lying.
“There is ample evidence of their use by Russia against both military and civilian targets there,” Jean-Pierre told reporters on Monday.
US officials say Russia wanted the technology to help address arms shortfalls caused by the months-long war.
Zelenskyy has hinted for weeks that Russia began launching the drones as Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the invasion by annexing four Ukrainian regions, mobilizing up to 300,000 reservists and threatening to use nuclear weapons.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry announced on September 23 that it would reduce the number of diplomatic staff at the Iranian embassy in Kyiv, calling Iran’s delivery of the drones an “unfriendly act that is damaging relations between Ukraine and Iran.” badly damaged”.
Last week, Zelenskyi told the Group of Seven (G7) leaders that Ukraine’s intelligence agency says Russia has ordered 2,400 drones from Tehran.
The Shahed drones appear to have been successful in many instances, including in Kyiv on Monday, although US intelligence says the drones also have “numerous flaws”.
But the strikes have already resulted in deaths and destruction across Ukraine, prompting Zelensky to demand stronger air defense systems from the West.
“As of yesterday, the enemy deployed more than a hundred cruise missiles and dozens of different drones, including Iranian ‘Shaheds,'” Zelenskyy said at the G7 meeting. “And every ten minutes I get a message about the enemy’s deployment of Iranian ‘Shaheds’.”
US officials have said they are working to ship eight National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASMS) to Ukraine, though most of those shipments are not expected to arrive for months.
Following Monday’s strikes in Kyiv, Ukraine’s foreign ministry condemned Iran’s alleged role, as Ukraine’s foreign minister said he had urged European Union leaders to impose sanctions on Iran in response.
“Dozens of people, including children, were killed and injured,” the State Department statement said. “A third of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was affected. The buildings of two diplomatic missions in Kyiv were damaged. Providing arms to wage a war of aggression in Ukraine and killing Ukrainian citizens makes Iran complicit in Russia’s aggression crime, war crimes and acts of terrorism against Ukraine.”
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