Shahed 136 ‘Kamikaze’ Drone Caught Seconds Before Hitting Target In Ukraine


Shahed 136
A Shahed 136 suicide drone few seconds before and after hitting a target in Ukraine. (Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP)

The Iranian-made Russian-operated suicide drone is one of the many launched during the latest massive wave of attacks across Ukraine.

This morning Ukraine woke up again under a rain of fire, with Russian forces conducting a massive wave of attacks against Kyiv and nearby cities. Both cruise missiles and suicide drones have been used, the latter being mainly the Iranian-made Shahed 136 which the Russians renamed Geran 2. The Ukrainian MoD claims about 37 such drones and 3 cruise missiles were shot down, while an unspecified number of them struck their targets.

Following the attacks, AFP published online photos showing a Geran 2 just seconds before and after it struck its target, captured by photographers Yasuyoshi Chiba and Sergei Supinsky. After the photos of wreckages, these are another confirmation of the Geran 2 and Shahed 136 being the same munition, even if Iran keeps denying the sale to Russia.

There are also unconfirmed reports about Iranian instructors in the occupied territories of southern Ukraine to launch and operate Shahed 136 munitions while performing hands-on training for the Russians. Moreover, following the mantra “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, Israel might be providing intelligence about the Shahed 136 to their Ukrainian counterparts, according to a senior Ukrainian official cited by the Times of Israel.

As we already reported, the Shahed-136 is a flying wing with tip fence-type winglets, with a length of about 2.5 meters and a wingspan of 3.5 meters. The munition is said to weigh around 200 kg and also it seems to be propelled by a piston engine and a rocket booster used for the launch, with a speed of about 185 km/h. Interestingly, reports say that the MD550 engine mentioned in the infographics is sourced on Aliexpress. Some sources call it a “loitering munition” but most seem to agree it should be a “direct attack munition”, since it lacks loitering capability.

The munition was first publicly shown last year in the Great Prophet 17 exercise, when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched 10 Shahed-136 munitions from a truck-mounted containerized system. The munition has already seen action in the Middle East, notably against the tanker M/V Mercer Street in 2021 and the Saudi Aramco oil processing plant in 2019.

Some weeks ago, Russian officials were said to be visiting Iran and, shortly after, reports emerged about a possible delivery of Iranian drones of various types to Russia. According to some sources, the Shahed 136 has been upgraded in Russia with the addition of a GLONASS control unit which supposedly increased the range at the expense of the warhead. Russia might have acquired 2,400 Shahed 136s, according to Ukrainian intelligence.

Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.


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