US: Expert on plans to increase Ukraine military support
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The “Punisher” drones are able to hit targets up to 30 miles behind enemy lines. Ukrainian engineer Eugene Bulatsev, who works for warfare technology company UA-Dynamics, described the drones as “game-changing” for the Ukrainian military. He said the devices have so far completed up to 60 “successful” missions since fighting began a week ago.
The engineer, who is about to join the Ukrainian army in Kyiv, also noted that the devices were able to avoid injuring civilians.
Speaking to the Times, he said: “This is the cheapest and easiest way to deliver a punch from a long distance, without risking civilian lives.”
The drones can carry up to 3kg of explosives.
Once programmed with the coordinates of a target, it can then carry out the mission automatically.
The accuracy of the mission can be checked by on-board cameras, which record the impact of the blast.
While the number and location of drones deployed in the Ukrainian military is classified, Mr Bulatsev confirmed they are in use in a number of different units in the Ukrainian military, including the elite Special Operations forces.
They are primarily used to hit stationary targets, including fuel and ammunition storage, electronic and counter-electronic warfare stations and expensive anti-air systems.
The devices have a 7.5ft wingspan and can remain in the air for hours, up to 1,3000ft above ground.
They are typically paired with a smaller drone, called a Spectre, used for reconnaissance.
The Spectre drone flies alongside the Punisher to identify targets, before the larger drone attacks the target.
The two-drone package costs $196,000, including a ground station and a trainer.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace cited the Ukrainian military’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as a key part of their resistance.
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He told Sky News: “We’ve seen footage we can’t verify but we’ve seen footage of Ukrainians using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to attack petrol train convoys, to go after logistical lines, we’ve seen lines blown up, all the things you and I think of when it comes to resistance.”
Mr Wallace described the tactics as a “very clever plan”.
This comes as the Russian invasion of Ukraine appears to be stalling.
Russian forces are yet to capture the capital, Kyiv, or the country’s second city, Kharkiv.
Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College London, said that Russia’s failure to disable Ukraine’s air defences was “the first mistake”.
He told the Telegraph: “The hurry to get the war over with explains many of the mistakes made by Russian forces.
“The first mistake was not to make it a priority to take out the Ukrainian air force and air defences.
“These are still operating and the skies over Ukraine can be dangerous for Russian aircraft.”
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