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Lethal ‘kamikaze’ drones will hunt in pairs to take out Russian artillery - The Telegraph - 05.04.22

US hands Ukraine keys to new technology, which will counter Russian approach of deploying long-range missiles to pulverise civilian areas by Dominic Nicholls, Defence and Security Editor for the Telegraph

A “tag-team” of drones could soon be deployed for the first time in a battlefield to help Ukraine destroy Russian artillery.

The latest batch of lethal aid from the US could extend the range of the Switchblade “kamikaze” drone, which is already in use, by pairing it with the larger Puma drone.

The effort to seek out and destroy Russian missile and artillery units is seen as Kyiv’s next big requirement, as calls for a no-fly zone have dissipated in the wake of much-reduced Russian air activity.

The fierce Ukrainian resistance has curtailed activities by the Russian air force and Moscow has never achieved air superiority. Russia has therefore chosen to deploy long-range artillery and missiles to pulverise civilian areas in a bid to demoralise Ukrainian forces.

The focus now for Western countries is to donate weapons able to push Russian artillery systems further back, or destroy any that threaten civilian areas.

On April 1, the Pentagon announced a $300 million package of weapons for Ukraine. This second batch of arms takes to almost $1 billion the total pledged by the White House.

The latest package includes Switchblade loitering drones, designed to fly over a battlefield and select the best target to attack.

After launch, these lightweight weapons fly at about 60mph for up to 15 minutes, using an optical camera relaying video of the terrain to its controller.

As it is controlled by a human it is highly accurate. Once it finds a target, it dives down on to the vehicle or bunker complex. An explosive charge in the drone detonates on impact, giving such munitions the nickname “kamikaze”.

It is thought around 200 Switchblade drones have been supplied to Ukraine by the US. British forces have experimented with Switchblade and are expected to take delivery of an unspecified number under a $44.9 million contract with the US supplier.

Of particular interest in the latest Pentagon lethal aid package is the addition of Puma drones. Made by the same company as Switchblade, these “traditional” drones have cameras that swivel to provide stabilised views of the battlefield.

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Lethal ‘kamikaze’ drones will hunt in pairs to take out Russian artillery - by Dominic Nic
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A high explosive charge in the Switchblade drone detonates on impact Credit: ABACA

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