Russia’s Lancet family of drones continues to wreak havoc on Ukrainian targets, with the latest video showing it severely damaging a Ukrainian Navy armored vessel.
The war has entered its ninth month and shows no signs of subsiding, with all hopes pinned on a possible meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Joe Biden, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the G20 summit in Indonesia.
Russia is presently assessed to strengthen its position in the east and the south, to thwart further Ukrainian counter-attacks to retake their lost territory.
Until then, defensive lines are merely being held and fiercely defended by massive shelling, air strikes, rocket artillery, and kamikaze drone attacks on Ukrainian ingresses. This conclusion is based on Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) updates and videos posted by many pro-Russian social media handles.
They mention and show only advancing Ukrainian tank and troop columns coming under mass artillery fires, cruise missile strikes on Ukrainian military and military-connected civilian infrastructure, and loitering munition strikes on Ukrainian defensive positions, tanks, armored vehicles, and radars.
No massive mobilization or large battles that indicate a concerted military push have been seen since the last month.
Kamikaze drones like the KYB/KUB, the Lancet-3, and the Iranian Shahed-136 have come to be used extensively by Russia and have nearly become the mainstay of Russian tactical battlefield strikes.
Collectively, they have become a massive nuisance, and the combined effect of their relentless strikes has also had some strategic impact on the war.
Lancet Hits Ukrainian Gunboat
The latest video shows a small Ukrainian gunboat being observed in a CCD camera crosshair. The view rapidly closes in on the boat, indicating the Lancet is quickly heading towards it.
Just before impact, the video cuts to another top view, possibly caught by another UAV, showing the drone hitting the boat’s bridge and debris scattering into the water following the explosion.
A social media post identified the target as an ‘artillery boat’ of the Gyurza-M (Project 58155) class sailing in the Dnieper river.
“The Ukrainian Navy lost four more such boats in spring in Berdyansk and Mariupol. Now only three boats of project 58155 remain in service – R-175 Berdyansk (BK-02), R-176 Nikopol (BK-03), and R-180 Kostopil (BK-07),” said a Russian defense watcher identifying himself as Anatoly.
Anatoly also claims Ukrainian descent from one side of his family, with roots near Kharkiv. However, the claim about the number of Gyurza-M boats in the Ukrainian Navy could not be independently verified.
The Hunted & The Hunter
The first two Gyurza-M vessels were laid down at the Kuznia na Rybalskomu (previously Leninska Kuznia) shipbuilding plant in October 2012. Originally it was planned to build nine such ships by 2017.
The range of missions for the Gyurza-M could include security patrolling littoral, river, and lake waters; fighting small hostile ships; protection of off-shore infrastructures; support for sea-to-land and border guard operations; support for maritime safety; and surveillance and logistics support.
The gunboats have a length of 23 meters, a beam of 4.8 meters, and a draught of one meter. They can reach a top speed of 25 knots (46 kilometers an hour).
The Lancet was unveiled in June 2019 during the ARMY-2019 military expo held in Moscow. It is a further development of the ZALA KYB-UAV, also known as KUB-BLA, loitering munition. ZALA is a Russian company that develops and manufactures the Lancet.
The ZALA Lancet can be used for reconnaissance and strike missions and has a maximum range of 40 kilometers and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of up to 12 kilograms. It can be armed with high-explosive (HE) or HE-fragmentation warheads in combat mode.
It features optical-electronic guidance and a TV guidance unit that allows the munition to be controlled at the terminal stage of flight.
The drone features intelligence, navigation, and communications modules. According to RIA Novosti, the Lancet that struck the boat is a newer version with a five-kilogram warhead.