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Ukraine receives British MQM-185B jet-powered drones destroyed by Russian Forces

On February 19, 2024, Russian forces announced and showcased for the first time the destruction of an MQM-185B jet-powered British drone, believed to be the Banshee or a similar model, through images shared on their social media platforms. This incident occurred near Novoazovsk, a strategically significant location near the border between the Donetsk region and Russia.
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British QinetiQ Banshee Jet-Powered drone found in Donetsk region (Picture source: Russian MoD and QinetiQ)

The first confirmations of the use of these drones emerged on February 19, 2024, when images released by the Russians showed a drone intercepted in the Novoazovskyi district of the Donetsk region. Positioned about 60 kilometers from the frontline, the drone was reportedly armed with a 7-kilogram military payload, indicating its use as an offensive weapon.

A video accompanying the images displays warnings in English on the drone's flaps, stating "NO HAND," a clear precaution against handling. The drone also featured a modified tail compared to its original model as a target drone developed by the British corporation QinetiQ, although its general shape, jet nozzles, and technical openings remain consistent with the British model.

These events align with announcements made by the UK last year regarding the transfer of long-range attack drones to Ukraine. Although specific details, such as the type and name of the drones, were not disclosed at the time, it was mentioned that "hundreds of new long-range attack drones with a range of more than 200 km" were expected to arrive in the following months.

The original Banshee Jet 80, designed as a target drone for the Royal Navy, is powered by two jet engines providing a total thrust of 90 kg, allowing for a maximum speed of 720 km/h. With a flight time of 45 minutes, it can achieve a range of more than 100 km and a maximum altitude of 9144 meters. Its advanced control system includes a digital autopilot and autonomous point navigation, facilitating its use in complex missions.

The drone incorporates a combined control system developed by QinetiQ, including avionics such as a three-dimensional inertial system with satellite signal correction and a digital autopilot. Digital telemetry systems and autonomous point navigation are also onboard, providing tracking and telemetry capabilities.

The adaptation of these drones for combat underscores a pragmatic strategy by Ukraine and its allies to enhance offensive capabilities at an affordable cost, converting target drones into strike weapons. This strategic choice, considered since the beginning of 2023, demonstrates ingenuity and adaptability in the face of a prolonged conflict but also highlights the challenges faced by the Ukrainian armed forces in securing supplies.


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