The Kharkiv region in eastern Ukraine is increasingly being attacked by Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones. These drones could pose a major threat to Ukraine, say both experts and a Ukrainian commander.
First, there were reports that Russia was dissatisfied with the Iranian drones it had bought for the Ukraine war. Now the Shahed-136 combat drone is said to pose a new threat to Ukrainian troops. The Wall Street Journal reports that Iranian kamikaze drones have been used in several heavy attacks in the region in recent days. The drones are guided directly into vehicles, artillery pieces or positions.
This poses a major threat to the Ukrainian army, military adviser Scott Crino, founder of consulting firm Red Six Solutions, told The Wall Street Journal.
Colonel Rodion Kulagin, artillery commander of the 92nd mechanized brigade, told WSJ that the drones were small and flying at low altitudes, making them difficult to spot. The drones would usually hit in pairs. One targets a radar system, the other targets artillery pieces.
The British Ministry of Defense has already pointed out that the Shahed-136 has a range of 2500 kilometers. The experts added that Moscow appears to have been using these drones for tactical strikes near the front lines rather than destroying strategic targets deep within Ukrainian territory. Currently, they would be deployed primarily in the Kharkiv Oblast, which Ukraine has almost completely recaptured in the last two weeks. Only in the operational area of Colonel Kulagin’s troops did the drones hit hard, destroying three self-propelled howitzers and two armored vehicles.
According to military expert Scott Crino, the drone is a “powerful counterweight” to the effective Himars missiles that the US has supplied to Ukraine. Because of the size of the battlefield, it is difficult for the Ukrainians to fully defend themselves against the combat drone. “Once a Shahed-136 locks onto a target, it’s very difficult to stop,” he says. Therefore, military expert Crino concludes: “The presence of the Shahed-136 undoubtedly changes Kiev’s operational plans.”
Ukrainian troops shot down a combat drone near Kharkiv, the military said about a week ago. Russia is said to have bought this especially for the Ukraine war. According to Ukrainian information, the combat drones are the first major use of foreign weapons in the war on the Russian side.
Images on social networks show photos of a downed Shahed-136 drone – repainted in Russian colors and labeled “Geranium-2”. It is a Russian tradition to name artillery after flowers.
At the beginning of September, reports were piling up that there had already been “numerous errors” in the initial tests of Iranian drones, according to the Washington Post report. An employee of a Western secret service is said to have even said: “The Russians are not satisfied.” With regard to the Shahed-136, the current assessment is probably different.
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