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Ukraine Launches Strikes on Russian Oil Refineries with Indigenous Drone "Liutyi"

According to information released on March 24, 2024, by Ukrainian media “EUROMAIDAN”, Ukraine has been conducting precision strikes against Russian oil refineries using its domestically developed unmanned aircraft, the "Liutyi." These operations have extended up to 800 kilometers inside Russian territory. The "Liutyi" drone, which bears a striking resemblance to the Turkish-manufactured Bayraktar TB2 in design, is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) designed for either remotely controlled or autonomous flight operations.
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A screenshot from a social media video shows a likely Lyutyi kamikaze drone used to strike Russia’s Ryazan oil refinery on 13 March 2024. (Picture source EUROMAIDAN)

According to the Ukrainian news outlet "EUROMAIDAN," Ukraine has initiated the mass deployment of the "Liutyi" drone since the beginning of 2024. This strategy has resulted in the precise targeting and crippling of numerous high-value Russian industrial assets, including oil refineries, depots, and factories within an 800 km radius from Ukraine's borders.

The inception of the "Liutyi" drone project was first publicly disclosed by "Ukroboronprom" in October 2022. The announcement detailed the ambition to create an attack drone exceeding 200 kg in weight, equipped with the capability to deliver a 75 kg warhead over distances surpassing 1,000 kilometers.

In design parallels to the Bayraktar TB2, the "Liutyi" utilizes a monocoque construction technique, where the external skin bears the majority of structural loads. Its fuselage is composed of fiberglass and epoxy resin, reinforced with metal mesh and plywood for added strength. Notably, the drone is equipped with fixed-wheeled landing gear, indicative of a conventional airplane launch mechanism via runway acceleration.

This design philosophy not only minimizes the UAV's weight but also bolsters its structural durability. The UAV is characterized by a high-wing configuration that enhances stability and payload integration capacity, allowing for the seamless inclusion of sensors and equipment.

A key feature of the "Liutyi" is its V-tail design, which serves to diminish its radar and infrared signatures, thereby improving its operational survivability. Additionally, this design contributes to the UAV's aerodynamic efficiency, facilitating superior control and maneuverability at varying altitudes.

With dimensions featuring a wingspan of approximately 6.7 meters and a length of about 4.4 meters, the "Liutyi" is designed for versatility across a broad range of mission profiles. It is powered by an internal combustion engine driving a pusher propeller, optimizing the balance between speed and fuel efficiency.

The drone's payload is adaptable, equipped to carry electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) cameras, laser designators, and explosive charges, rendering it a highly effective tool for precision strikes. Operated from a ground control station, the "Liutyi" supports both line-of-sight and beyond-line-of-sight operations via satellite communication, allowing for extensive control range.

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