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Back in 2020, a grassroots Instagram-based journalist’s Popular Front posted video footage of Azerbaijani drone strikes on two Armenian positions, presumably within the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. The footage came just days after clashes broke out in the region.

You can view the drone strike footage here. Viewer caution: graphic content. It is not blood and guts graphic content, more the bodies flying around type, but it may disturb some people nonetheless.  Be advised.

Explanation of the scenes in the video

In the first strike video, we can see when the Armenian troops — especially those to the left side of the frame — suddenly scramble when they most likely hear a warning of incoming munitions. The approximately 10 soldiers in the center attempt to take cover in the sandbag-reinforced protective position, which is, unfortunately, the exact spot being lazed by the drone.

In the second strike, there is apparently no prior alarm sounded, as the soldiers remain relatively motionless until the very impact of the munition. The drone has the pipper aimed at the nose of the vehicle where the bulk of the Armenian soldiers are assembled.

How the Strikes Were Carried Out

The two rather gruesome scenes were likely captured by the same drone that is marking the target for the weapon system that launched the munition which impacted these two Armenian troop positions. Visible in the center of the images is the crosshair — the essential aiming alignment marks or “pipper” — used by the remotely-located drone pilot to show where the laser target designator from the Azerbaijani drone is focused.

The munition launched from either another drone or piloted aircraft will interrogate the laser to determine if it is the correct target designator. Typically, the target laser is encoded with a value that is known by the laser-guided munition. Once the interrogation “handshake” is successful, the munition will lock onto the laser bean and follow it until terminal impact.