Aside from the Javelins and the NLAWs, there’s another not-so-secret weapon wreaking havoc on the invading Russian forces in Ukraine, and that is the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 armed drone. It has had a successful campaign thus far, destroying Russian convoys comprised of armored vehicles, towered artillery, and of course, Russian troops.

It seems that these drones have exposed a large gap in Russian air defenses in Ukraine, leaving their ground troops and convoys vulnerable to airstrikes by the Ukrainian Air Force and the Bayraktar. The Bayraktar has had a notable following as several videos of it absolutely obliterating Russian vehicles have popped up.

So far, Ukraine has found an answer to almost everything Russia throws at it. Russian tanks and their makeshift anti-missile cages were not a match for Ukraine’s St. Javelin (and NLAWs) and soon Panzerfaust IIIs from Germany. Now, these Turkish armed drones are proving highly effective against Russian armored vehicles, making it a superb morale-booster for Ukrainian forces with its tactical success.

According to Oryx and its head Stijn Mitzer who specializes in tracking destroyed weapons in the Russo-Ukrainian war, the Bayraktar TB2 has destroyed the following vehicles and systems:

  • 1 unknown Armored Fighting Vehicle
  • 1 unknown communication station
  • 5 152mm 2A65 Msta-B howitzers, with one damaged then subsequently captured by Ukrainian forces.
  • 1 9A310M1 TELAR for Buk-M1-2 Surface-To-Air Missile System, two more damaged
  • 1 9A39M1 TEL for Buk-M1-2 Surface-To-Air Missile System
  • 2 9A310M2 TELAR for Buk-M2 Surface-To-Air Missile Systems
  • 1 9A39M2 TEL for Buk-M2 Surface-To-Air Missile System
  • 1 9A331M TLAR for 9K332 Tor-M2 Surface-To-Air Missile System
  • 2 fuel logistic trains
  • 2 Unknown trucks
  • 2 Ural-4320 trucks
  • 5 KamAZ 6×6
  • 4 KamAZ-6350 8×8 artillery tractor
  • 8 Unknown supply trucks

These drones are changing the way modern conflicts are being fought, with some capability to evade or avoid detection by modern surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and destroy them without retaliation. Take, for example, the Russian Buk-M1-2 Air Defense Missile System, a fairly effective and reliable mobile, radar-guided SAM system that has been deployed to Ukraine and has a reported cost of $120 million per battalion. Now, compare that with the Turkish Bayraktar TB2, which has a unit cost between $1 million to $2 million. We’d say that’s a fairly cost-effective way of eliminating your enemies without endangering your own soldiers. Talk about a cheap counter to one of Russia’s best SAM systems!