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Switchblade drone attacking a Russian tank in Ukraine (Screenshot from AFU StratCom/Facebook)
In what has thrust the internet and social media platforms to be a medium of virtually live streaming the Russo-Ukrainian war to the world, we have seen how the war progressed throughout the four months with our very own eyes. Today, we saw footage of the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (SSO/SOF) using US-donated Switchblade Kamikazee drones in action against Russian tanks. This is reportedly the first publicized instance the Switchblade has been used in combat.
The footage, which was recorded through its cameras, shows a Russian T-72B3 main battle tank in an open field, the location of which is unknown. The video also shows the Russian crew on top of the tank, not really minding anything in their surroundings. Just as the camera shows the AeroVironment-made Switchblade drone about to hit the crew, the video cuts to which a well-known credits scene often used as a meme plays.
The Ukrainian forces, known for their high spirits while in war, apparently were poking fun at the Russian forces using the Star Wars theme song in the video, making a meme out of the Russians. This is not the first time the Ukrainians have done this form of psyops.
When the Moskva was hit by two Neptune anti-ship missiles back in April, the Russians and the Russian flagship became the subject of international trolling. This was because Russia kept denying that the cruiser was struck by the Ukrainians when it was pretty obvious that it was hit due to photographs of the Moskva surfacing on social media.
Many internet users were quick to post about the Moskva being “promoted” to a submarine and would go on to complete its “special underwater operation.” Many people also photoshopped the Moskva being towed by a Ukrainian tractor, with others saying that the Moskva fire had been extinguished as it had sunk to the bottom of the sea.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov also joined in on the fun and joked about the shipwreck. The defense minister tweeted a photograph of him scuba diving and said that the Moskva was now a “worthy diving site” and would go on to say that he is a seasoned scuba diver. At the SOFREP HQ, we couldn’t resist the temptation and shot out a joke about the Moskva ourselves.
Going back to the Switchblade attacking a Russian tank, the Ukrainian Strategic Communications published the video on their Facebook, saying that the Ukrainian SSO had “destroyed” the Russians.
Here, they disclose that the Russians were drinking alcohol while sitting on top of the tank during the attack. They took advantage of this situation by attacking them with the loitering munition.
“According to our soldiers, the Russian occupiers were quietly drinking alcohol at one of the positions, sitting on the armor of their tank. However, the usual Russian occupation was abruptly interrupted by an unexpected attack from the air,” they said.
“A modern kamikaze drone, equipped with a powerful explosive, flew straight into the tank, causing irreparable damage to the enemy,” they added, saying that the tank was destroyed.
However, as much as we have reported on Russian tanks being destroyed by western-donated anti-tank weapons, it is unlikely that a Switchblade drone would cause any significant damage to a tank. The Switchblade used in the video does not indicate whether it is a 300 or 600 variant. Any of the variants would not deal tremendous damage to the tank to the point that it would be destroyed. It is possible that the Switchblade did damage the tank in some form, hitting electronics and the like to limit the tank’s movement or effectiveness in battle.
What it does do is do damage to light vehicles and personnel. The Ukrainians probably meant that they destroyed the Russian troops operating the tank, not the tank itself. If that were the case, we’d agree that they possibly took out these soldiers as these Switchblades can definitely do that type of damage. Furthermore, these Russian soldiers could have been spotted using the drones themselves as they can fly around for 15 to 40 minutes in the air and uses real-time GPS to guide them to the target.
These suicide drones are quite the handy, effective air surveillance and deadly weapons to have in a war situation, especially when stealth is needed. It is not heavy and easily transportable, can be remotely controlled for some 6 miles, and can be reused if not used to hit a target. They are deployed much like mortar through a tube, make little noise, and voila, you have a reconnaissance drone in minutes – perfect for close air support, taking out light vehicles, and even killing snipers.
Currently, Ukraine has over 500 Switchblade 300s as the US donated them as part of their $800 million military aid package sent to Ukraine last March and April. This package was the one that included 2,000 Javelins, 1,000 light anti-armor weapons, 6,000 AT-4 anti-armor systems, 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns, 400 shotguns, 20 million rounds of small arms ammunition, grenade launcher and mortar rounds, 25,000 sets of body armor, and lastly 25,000 helmets.
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