According to military experts, the floating drones with which Ukraine is said to have attacked Putin’s Crimean fleet in Sevastopol at the weekend are based on recreational personal watercraft from a Canadian company. They would be easily obtainable and could be converted into fast, remote-controlled weapons.

The video images are spectacular: under a gray sky, an apparently unmanned, small, black boat can be seen speeding across the sea and being fired upon by a larger ship. Dozens of projectiles landed only a few meters in front of the small boat’s bow, but it seemed to escape the defensive fire. According to a report by the industry portal “Navelnews”, seven unmanned Ukrainian kamikaze swimming drones are said to have attacked Putin’s Black Sea fleet off the port of Sevastopol over the weekend. A drone like the one shown in the video.

But what kind of boat is the swimming drone?

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At the end of September, footage of a remote-controlled kayak-sized boat washing up on a beach not far from the Russian naval base in Sevastopol caused a stir. The photo then appeared on Russian social networks. The shape and structure of the bow of last weekend’s boat on video suggests that it is the same model.

By mid-October, the “U.S. Navel Institute” (USNI) dedicated a detailed report to the strange find, as several components of the boat provide information about their function. The military experts at the organization, which sees itself as an independent, non-profit expert committee dedicated to military security issues, quickly came to the conclusion that this was a combination of “commercially available watercraft parts” and the recreational sector. The vehicle, no larger than a normal kayak, will probably be loaded with explosives.

Even if there were no official markings on the hull or the simple, closed structure, the experts determined from the photo that the water nozzle of the unmanned boat was “clearly” assigned to the same design as jet boats and water scooters from the Canadian company Sea-Doo .

Even more: It is said to be a “relatively new model” with reverse thrust, which is offered with the “GTX” or “Fish Pro” models. The various models are offered on the company’s website with the slogan “Choose fun”.

The external clues in the photo would not have provided any clear indications of the engine. However, some models are equipped with very powerful Rotax three-cylinder petrol engines that can propel the jet boats to speeds of up to 70 miles per hour, which is around 112 km/h.

Two round, white protrusions on the bow also resembled impact fuses from Soviet-era FAB-500 aerial bombs, which the USNI says are still commonly used today. The detonators would probably be connected to the warhead by a cable. The size and position of the warhead are unclear, but it will probably be housed in the front half of the boat, the report said. In contrast to the watercraft, the hull of the swimming drone does not appear to be made of fiberglass, but aluminum.

The use of such an unmanned swimming vehicle combines several advantages. On the one hand, the most important components are relatively easy to get on the open market. The small size makes it less conspicuous and also makes it harder for radar to be tracked. In addition, it is very fast.

In September, the United States is said to have made such a vehicle available to Ukraine. A Pentagon spokesman had not initially confirmed this. However, according to experts, the design of the swimming drone and the Russian reaction to the destruction of the watercraft suggest that the drone came from Ukraine.

UNSI experts also concluded that the deployment of a new floating drone could explain the lack of Russian Navy operations near Sevastopol and around Crimea. Since the discovery of the mysterious floating drone in late September, the Russians have withdrawn to the defended port of Sevastopol, reduced the number of warships lurking outside the port entrance, and deployed a boom over the port’s mouth to control access more frequently, such as ship spotters have reported.

After the attack, the Russian Ministry of Defense officially spoke of seven unmanned swimming drones and eight flying drones. It remains unclear how much damage the attack caused. Putin’s army only speaks of “slight damage” to a single ship, but the experts from “Navelnews” assume that the damage must be far greater.

And not only that. According to the experts, the incident with the Russian Navy in the Black Sea shows that these air and sea drones will pose “a major threat to ships worth millions”. “In future conflicts, it will be even more difficult for ships that are not equipped with effective protection and survivability systems. And swarms of drones will be a big problem for large combat ships.”

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