- The Ukrainian military uses Punisher stealth drones that can travel long distances undetected.
- The “game-changing” drones are remote-controlled and can carry 3 kg of explosives.
- As the battle for Ukrainian skies continues, experts have been surprised by Russia’s lack of air power.
Ukraine’s military uses ‘game-changing’ drones that can carry 3kg of explosives and hit targets up to 30 miles behind enemy lines, The Times of London reported.
Eugene Bulatsev, an engineer with Ukrainian designer UA-Dynamics, told the outlet that the “game-changing” Punisher drones had completed up to 60 “successful” missions since the start of the Russian invasion.
“It’s the cheapest and easiest way to deliver a punch from a long distance, without risking the lives of civilians,” Bulatsev told the newspaper.
The electric drones have a wingspan of 7.5 feet and can fly for hours at 1,300 feet and only need their target’s coordinates to perform their mission automatically, Bulatsev said.
A smaller reconnaissance drone called Specter flies alongside to identify targets before the Punisher strikes.
After fighting began in eastern Ukraine in 2014, a group of veterans launched the drone manufacturing company, UA-Dynamics, according to a Haaretz report last month.
“Three-quarters of the company’s employees are veterans with special operations experience in enemy territory,” Maxim Subbotin, marketing expert and unofficial spokesperson for UA-Dynamics, told the newspaper.
Bulatsev said the main targets were stationary, including fuel and ammunition storage, electronic and counter-electronic warfare stations, and anti-aircraft systems.
Different Ukrainian army units use the drones, but the number and locations where Punisher drones are deployed are classified, Bulatsev said.
Bulatsev has already said The sun that Punisher stealth drones had “caused havoc behind pro-Russian lines on Donbass for years because the enemy has no idea what hit them”.
He told the outlet that the drone is relatively small and light and is undetectable by radar.
“Additionally, it can drop three bombs at once or hit three separate targets and then return to base to be reloaded and returned to combat within minutes,” Bulatsev told The Sun.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News that Ukraine had blocked Russian advances in part by implementing a “very clever plan”.
“We’ve seen footage that we can’t verify, but we’ve seen footage of Ukrainians using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to attack gasoline train convoys, to pursue logistics lines, we’ve seen lines explode, all the things you and I think of resistance,” Wallace said.
In addition to the Punisher drones, the Ukrainian army also uses around 20 popular Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey.
Videos shared by the Ukrainian military last week showed at least one strike from a TB2 drone appearing to rip through a column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles.
The drones are deployed as the battle in the Ukrainian skies continues after the Russian military invasion.
A senior US defense official described the airspace as “contested” and “very dynamic” earlier this week in a off-camera press briefingalthough Russia claims to have taken control.
Although Russia was expected to quickly eliminate Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, in recent days Ukraine has claimed to have shot down fighter jets, helicopters and even transport planes from Russian troops.
Experts were surprised that Russia had did not deploy the full force of its air forceas expected.