How Russia is using UAVs to deal with Ukraine’s maneuvering tactics?

Image 1 Zala KYB UAV Drone
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Russia has developed many countermeasures tactics, such as promoting the use of suicide drones to hit targets accurately.

As the military conflict in Ukraine intensified, the Russian military increased the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) such as the KUB-BLA on the entire front.

This change in tactics is aimed at suppressing Ukraine’s highly mobile offensive capabilities.

On October 28, the Izvestia newspaper reported that units of the Russian air force (VDV) used KUB-BLA UAVs to destroy the shelter of Ukrainian servicemen.

According to Izvestia reporter Natalia Grafchikova, Russian forces initially launched a reconnaissance UAV to accurately locate target coordinates. They then use suicide drones with high-explosive fragmentation warheads to attack the target.

The VDV unit commander said: “The lethal firepower of conventional cannons will be dispersed over a large area and therefore will consume a lot of ammunition which allows to focus lethal fire on the right target”.

In addition, one can easily launch the KUB-BLA from unprepared locations, even from the hood of a car.

To ensure the safety of military personnel operating the UAV, these drones are launched from a location outside the range of enemy fire. The launch is not based on rocket boosters, so it is difficult to detect.

KUB-BLA’s secret, precise characteristics

This type of UAV is manufactured by ZALA Aero company (belonging to Russia’s Kalashnikov weapons corporation). The device is relatively small (wing span is only 1.2m), carries a 3kg warhead with a maximum speed of 130km/h.

The outstanding features of this UAV are quiet operation, stealth design, the ability to “loiter” in the sky for a long time and especially the ability to identify targets with artificial intelligence (AI), this UAV has an accuracy of 5-10m.

Image 3 Zala KYB UAV Drone

The advantages of the KUB-BLA include “high accuracy, secret launch, no noise, and ease of use,” says ZALA Aero. “Explosive shells can be launched at the target no matter how well the target is hidden. The UAV can operate at both high and low altitudes”.

The UAV is programmed to move automatically, using a global satellite navigation system to reach a target based on the coordinates pre-loaded into the drone. Target coordinates can be updated in flight based on a continuous stream of data from a reconnaissance UAV over the target area.

The KUB-BLA UAV uses a set of propellers in the tail, powered by a quiet electric motor.

Over the past time, observers have noted that the Shahed-136 UAV proved to be effective on the Ukrainian battlefield.

However, Iran’s UAV stockpile may have an even more dangerous variety, like the Arash-2.

After launching, the UAV automatically moves to the target area and plummets to the target. The aerodynamic shape with low visibility makes the UAV difficult to detect by radar. Besides, this UAV also does not emit heat, so it is almost impossible to be attacked by man-portable anti-aircraft missiles. Thus, the quietness (sound stealth), the low-detection shape and the lack of heat give the UAV a high probability of reaching the target location.

UAVs can hit targets such as a private bunker, an armored vehicle or a group of armored vehicles, and locations of large concentration of enemy troops, including forces hiding in the woods or scattered across a trench.

Because the warhead of this UAV is only 3kg, to effectively attack a group of enemy armored vehicles, Russia will have to mobilize 2-3 such UAVs to attack the target. This swarm tactic helps to increase the probability that the UAV will hit the target despite encountering enemy air defense fire. In addition, such swarm tactics also increase flexibility when attacking scattered armored vehicles.

The international chessboard is complicated when Russia uses UAVs to attack targets in Ukraine

When Russia’s death drones dived into targets on Ukraine’s territory, fierce diplomatic interactions took place between countries on the international chessboard surrounding this conflict.

The KUB-BLA UAV was unveiled at the IDEX 2019 international defense exhibition. Its testing was completed by the end of 2021. Russia used this UAV at the beginning of their “special military operation” in Ukraine.

On May 18, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video showing a KUB-BLA UAV attacking a Ukrainian artillery battery using an American M777 howitzer.

Initially, Russia used UAVs rather sparingly. But now they have promoted the use of UAVs, many of which are self-developed and manufactured. Mass production has begun.

The fact that Russia has increased the use of UAVs on the battlefield also partly refutes Western claims that Russia is not capable of producing high-tech military equipment due to a lack of components because of US and western sanctions.

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