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Russia uses Lancet Ammunition to Neutralize Ukrainian Baba Yaga Drone Operators

On April 16, 2024, the Russian Twitter account @IvanTitov549528 shared a video from Russian military sources depicting an attack on Ukrainian operators of Baba Yaga/Vampire bomber drones headed towards Krasnolimansk, using a "Lancet" kamikaze drone.
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Ukrainian Baba Yaga Drone Operators attacked by Russian lancet ammunition (Picture source: Russian Social Media)

The "Vampire" drone, developed by the Ukrainian company SkyFall, represents an advancement in combat drone technology. Initially designed in June 2022 in response to Russian air superiority, this helicopter-type drone is equipped with six propellers and can reach a maximum speed of 120 km/h. Its operational capacity is limited to a ceiling of 400 meters and a flight endurance ranging from 23 to 37 minutes, depending on the source. Despite its limited range of 10 kilometers, it is particularly effective for nighttime missions thanks to its thermal camera, which allows it to detect targets up to 120 meters away.

The name "Baba Yaga," derived from a fearsome figure in Russian folklore, has become synonymous with an aerial threat to Russian troops. Within a week, these drones have destroyed various Russian military vehicles, including trucks and an armored car, as well as several shelters used by soldiers.

These low-flying drones are primarily used at night to take advantage of enemy troop movements. According to Commander Andriy Otchenash of the Ukrainian National Guard's 4th "Rubizh" Brigade, these "little birds" are capable of carrying various munitions, thereby increasing their effectiveness against fortified targets.

One of the key features of the Vampire is its significant payload capacity, which can go up to 15 kg, allowing it to carry various types of ammunition, including fragmentation, shaped charge, and thermobaric munitions. The latter is particularly devastating though imprecise, releasing a cloud of vaporized fuel that, once ignited, causes a powerful shockwave. This drone is primarily used against armored vehicles and military infrastructure such as ammunition depots and defensive lines.

A notable tactical innovation with the Vampire is the use of TM-62 anti-tank mines, typically deployed on the ground, but here dropped from the drone-like bombs. This method allows for precise strikes at a lower cost, without resorting to more expensive guided weapons. According to Matthew Moss, a British military historian, these mines are particularly effective for demolition missions due to their powerful blast effect.

Additionally, the Vampire excels in resilience to electronic jamming attempts, commonly used by Russian forces to neutralize Ukrainian drones. It is equipped with special antennas that keep the drone under control even if the signal is lost, allowing the operator to recover it reliably. Ease of use is another advantage, with operational training that can be completed in just three hours, including practice in attaching munitions and navigating using the thermal camera in nighttime conditions.

Faced with this new threat, Russia has adapted its defense strategies, including the development of spoofing systems to interfere with the drones' GPS signals, although this method is not foolproof. Moreover, Russia is working on ways to neutralize communications via Starlink terminals, which some drones use for navigation.

Due to the effectiveness of these drones and the difficulty in intercepting them mid-flight, Russian forces are now actively targeting Ukrainian drone operating teams. As revealed by a video shared on Russian social media, this strategy aims to exploit vulnerabilities during the drones' pre-launch phase.

Technological evolution does not stop there. The future may see the emergence of so-called "master drones," based on agricultural UAVs, capable of carrying and dropping kamikaze drones behind enemy lines. These autonomous drones could significantly alter front-line dynamics, enabling surprise attacks deep into enemy territory.


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