In the recent Armenian and Azerbaijani war the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drone was proclaimed a ‘game changer’ platform. Turkey did nothing to correct this idea and went on to sell lots and lots of them.
These drones are similar in purpose to the American Reaper as it can loiter over a given area monitoring the landscape below and drop munitions on targets of opportunity. They were devastating to the Armenian forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region and did turn that war for Azerbaijan.
The reason they worked so well is the clever Azerbaijani air force used ancient Antonov An-2 as decoys. These single engine biplanes were configured for remote piloting and control. At the start of hostilities they flew these big slow targets at the Armenian and merrily noted the SAM radars and batteries as they discovered and shot down the decoys.
Those same air defences were then eliminated by the Bayraktar drones with their lower radar cross sections. Without air cover it was a turkey shoot. Brave Armenians forces on the ground had nowhere to hide and moral plummeted as they were eliminated.
Death from above has amazing effects on men and moral. So much so that in WWII the German Luftwaffe deliberately put sirens on their Junker Ju87 Stuka dive bombers. The unmistakable sound of a Stuka making a diving run would make even the bravest warrior’s sphincter muscle pucker.
The sound was so memorable that the TIE Fighter’s in Lucas’s Star Wars sound effect was based on it. Similarly the change in sound as a V1’s engine sputtered out and went silent meant death was coming. Death from above.
Cue to modern day Ukraine. In recent weeks various gossip has proven correct. The Russian have purchased Iranian Shahed-136 drones and rebadged them as the now Russian Geran-2 (Geranium – honestly??). These are loitering/kamikaze munitions and have made a big impact – pun intended.
Watching footage from Odessa recently and other places with the panicked reaction of the local Orcs trying to shoot them down brought me back to the Ju 87 Stuka. There are lots of such videos on Telegram.
These are not like the American Switchblade anti-personnel loitering drones as they have a serious warhead. The specs of the drone are still uncertain. Length is guessed to be 2.5 – 3.5 m, weight 200Kg, warhead 50Kg and range is unknown. A recent strike was 300 Km from Russian lines of control and Iran likes their drones to be long range. See this video for speculation. The Shahed/Geran is the delta winged model.
Also these drones targeted a military barracks in Kyiv yesterday with devastating effect in an area where air defences would still be active. They are said to be made of fibre glass construction and would hence be very tricky for radar to detect.
These drones have an electric motor. While I have no speciality knowledge I would believe they should be a lot quieter for that reason – a propeller effect? That noise and the images of their terminal dive really drives the dive bomber image home. Is that deliberate?
While Russian missile tech is the global leader I have a real appreciation for the Iranian’s ability to share ‘the pain’ with their drones and missiles. Those strikes in Iraq in retaliation for the murder of General Suleimani were impressive in their size and accuracy with no intercept from the US forces.
The Rooskies are now hunting down artillery pieces and other juicy targets of opportunity such as ammo warehouses, command posts etc. These drones seems to have freedom of the sky in the ‘Kraine. This is Scott Ritter's brief opinion.
It’s interesting in that warfare really has changed but the core backbone stays the same. Industrial scale destruction of enemy forces are the blunt fist and stand-off platforms such as drones evolve rapidly.
I have seen Western concept proposals of mini drones with AI control causing chaos and havoc almost more as platforms for terrorism. The big take way from the ‘Kraine is that America and the West’s tactic of war ‘on the cheap’ is over. If NATO decide to ‘man up’ conventionally to Russia they would be lucky to last a fortnight. After that they would be out of ammo.