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Hopeless ‘kamikaze’ drones show Vladimir Putin’s war machine is floundering

Russia fired more than 80 cruise missiles and 24 drones into Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, during the morning rush hour on Monday.

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, said on Tuesday that Russian forces had launched the munitions – sometimes described as suicide or kamikaze drones – almost hourly since the start of the onslaught on Monday morning.

Ukraine’s armed forces have had relative success gunning them down, but they fear the current air defence systems could be overwhelmed as more are deployed.

The rate of fire dropped significantly on Tuesday, with 29 cruise missiles launched and 13 drones confirmed as intercepted.

At the virtual meeting of G7 leaders, Mr Zelensky claimed he received briefings of at least seven downed Iranian-made drones during the hours of 5am and 6am.

It was claimed by Kyiv’s General Staff that 24 of the 46 drones fired between Sept 30 and before Monday’s bombardment had been downed.

Constructed from commercially-available technologies, from mobile phones and model aircraft engines, the single-use Shahed-136s are cheap to make.

Historically, the Iranian Aircraft Industrial Company has been a master of reverse engineering old Western planes and helicopters in order to produce its own unmanned aircraft.

Various Western sanctions on Iran have prevented the country from acquiring the necessary military-grade equipment to produce drones. Meanwhile, the US has supplied its own “loitering munitions” to Ukraine, known as Switchblade drones.

Their lack of power and sophistication has played a major role in Ukraine’s ability to not allow Moscow to gain a foothold in the aerial battle.

Despite being proven to be largely ineffective, Ukraine will use the presence of these Iranian-made drones on the battlefield as part of the diplomatic effort to secure more high-tech Western air defence systems.

Kyiv has publicised the movement of almost 50 Shahed-136 by Russia to Belarus, potentially putting the drones in the range of the Ukrainian capital.

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