On Monday, Ukraine claimed that its Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) destroyed two Russian patrol boats near Snake Island in the Black Sea.
“Two Russian Raptor boats were destroyed at dawn today near Snake Island,” Ukraine’s defense ministry stated in a statement shared on social media. The ministry also released grainy black and white aerial footage.
The video footage, which appeared to be from the sensors of a drone, showed the boats exploding. The time stamp on the camera footage indicated that the attack occurred early on Monday.
“The Bayraktars are working,” Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, commander in chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, was quoted as saying in the statement, pointing to Turkish-made military drones.
💬Головнокомандувач ЗС України генерал Валерій Залужний:
Сьогодні на світанку біля острова Зміїний було знищено два російські катери типу Раптор.
— Defence of Ukraine (@DefenceU) May 2, 2022
The MAM-L lightweight Smart Micro Munition was most likely used to eliminate the Russian Raptor boats. MAM-L was designed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), light attack aircraft, and air-ground missions for low payload capacity air platforms. MAM-L has the ability to engage both standing and moving targets with pinpoint accuracy.
The Raptor class boats are small patrol craft weighing roughly 20 tonnes. These vessels, which entered the Russian Navy only a decade ago, are largely equipped with machine guns.
The boat’s armored protection comprises Br4 class panels and bulletproof windows with 39mm thick glass. It has a displacement of 23 tonnes, a length of 16.9 meters, and a width of 4.1 meters. The maximum speed is 50 knots, with a range of 300 miles. The boat has a crew of 2-3 men and can transport approximately 20 soldiers.
Pella, a Russian shipbuilder, builds the Raptor-class (Project 03160) assault boats. Their primary objectives are to patrol coastal seas, conduct rescue operations, intercept small-tonnage targets, and defend ports and bases from the small sea and air attacks.
Contribution of Turkish Drones In The War
The attacks on the two Raptor ships come amid disagreements about the effectiveness of the TB2 drones in operations against Russia. The drones had become quite famous in the ongoing war, having been employed to attack Russian armored vehicles and air defense systems.
This drone’s participation was so significant in the war that the moniker ‘Bayraktar’ has become part of the folklore of Ukraine’s resistance to the Russian invasion. The popularity of this drone can be judged by the fact that the Ukrainians have even produced a folk song about the TB2 drones.
The TB2 was also said to be engaged in the destruction of the Russian warship Moskva earlier this month. Ukraine claimed it unleashed anti-ship missiles at the Moskva after the ship was ‘distracted’ by a TB2 drone.
A TB2 was also apparently used in a recent attack on two oil depots in Bryansk, Russia. The Bryansk strike was noteworthy since Ukraine’s military infiltrated Russian airspace for 150 kilometers.
Despite the absence of video evidence, Stijn Mitzer, an arms expert who manages the popular defense blog Oryx, told MEE that the employment of a TB2 Bayraktar in the strike was plausible.
“The reason that you don’t see the footage is because Russia is still firing missiles at the bases from which the TB2s operate,” he said. “If they would post images, Russia would feel pressured to retaliate even harder.”
According to Russian accounts, Ukraine lost a TB2 the same day in Russia’s Kursk region following the fuel bombings in Bryansk, probably while on its way back to base. “This raid was conducted deep into Russian airspace,” Mitzer said, adding that it was comparable to “the daring raids during World War II, infiltrating deep into enemy territory during the night.”
Some defense analysts, however, believe the TB2 had limited success in the battle. Ukraine has lost roughly seven TB2 drones in the battle so far, according to open-source intelligence.
Recently, it was reported that Russian forces staged old drone debris in a clumsy replication of a recent crash to give the appearance that they had taken down more of Ukraine’s TB-2s than they actually had.
The photo, however, was quickly refuted by experts as proof of a legitimate shoot-down barely hours after it went viral on the internet.
Meanwhile, it is believed that Ukraine is still operating a good number of Turkish drones. After Russia invaded in March, a new shipment of Turkish drones arrived, demonstrating Kyiv’s capacity to maintain, if not increase, its TB-2 force.