How Ukraine's 'Punisher' drone is targeting Russian supply lines

 | Updated: Mar 09, 2022, 12:37 AM IST

The drone is reportedly designed by a company called UA Dynamics comprising of veterans who fought in the Crimea conflict with Russia in 2014.

The Punisher drone

As the war with Russia continues to drag on, Ukraine has deployed the lethal Punisher drones which has carried out several successful missions.

It can reportedly fly upto 30 miles inside enemy territory and has been used to disrupt Russia's supply lines blasting the long convoys and targeting the ammunition dumps.

The drones fly almost undetected with a wingspan of 7.5 feet and can fly at a height of 1,300 feet. The flight path of the "Punisher" is automatic and it feeds off its companion drone called the "Spectre" which helps in reconnaissance and identifying targets.

The drone is reportedly designed by a company called UA Dynamics comprising of veterans who fought in the Crimea conflict against Russia in 2014.


Bayraktar TB2 drone

The pride of Ankara, Turkish combat drones were quickly put into action by Ukraine following Russia's invasion. 

But while they have proved their worth in several recent conflicts -- from Syria to Libya to Nagorno-Karabakh -- the terrain this time is less favourable, experts say. 

Kyiv has around 20 Bayraktar TB2 drones, built by the Turkish military. 

Relatively cheap and effective, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been their number one salesman, securing deals with around 15 countries around the world. 


Drones target targeting Russian columns

The Ukrainian ambassador in Ankara has regularly tweeted images of explosions attributed to the drones, targeting Russian columns and artillery, with accompanying phrases like: "#c -- "Mashallah (God be praised)" and strings of joyous emojis. 

"These TB2 strikes are, in comparison to ground combat, relatively small in number, but important for Ukrainian morale precisely because it shows Russia does not control the skies," said Aaron Stein, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.


Russian air power vs Ukraine's drones

But the positive assessment also rests on Russia's surprising reticence to use its full airpower.

"The Russian air campaign has baffled experts, including myself, who made the incorrect assumption that they would be far more active over Ukraine," said Stein. 

Russian air power will overwhelm Ukraine's drones "at some point in the near future," he predicted.


Turkey's drones

Several conflicts in recent years have offered a shop window for Turkey's drones. They were a determining factor in Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020, giving Azerbaijan's forces the edge over Armenia in the disputed region.

In Libya a year earlier, they were crucial to repelling a protracted offensive by rebel commander, General Khalifa Haftar, against the government in Tripoli. 

Turkey has also deployed drones against Kurdish militants and government forces in Syria -- the latter backed by Russia


Russia has estimated inventory of 500 UAVs

They may be able to hit scattered Russian equipment, Ulgen added, but are unlikely to reach the most important and best protected assets, particularly those stationed around the capital. 

Twenty drones is "just not enough the tip the tide of battle, even if they were highly effective," agreed Mark Cancian, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. 

"We should keep in mind that the Russians have an estimated inventory of 500 UAVs (unmanned air vehicles), many of which are more capable than Ukraine's. Russia is certainly using them as well."


Uncrewed aerial systems & electronic warfare

Russia has deployed its heavy arsenal in an attempt to annex Ukraine. Putin's regime was clearly planning the attack on Ukraine for months as it deployed its weapons along the border with Ukraine.

The Russian defence ministry had deployed advanced drones along the border amid tensions with Ukraine.

As the drone war hots up, nations are now rapidly trying to work on their counter-uncrewed aerial systems (UAS) and electronic warfare (EW) in order to get an edge.


NATO eyes counter-drone system

NATO is planning to deploy the Electronic Networked Technology (SAPIENT) counter-drone solution. Last month the UK had said it had tested the Electronic Networked Technology(SAPIENT) with NATO.

The UK said it might use SAPIENT as a "counter-drone system". The UK said it had already adopted the technology as the standard to counter uncrewed air systems (UASs).

Turkey reportedly uses KORAL which is a land-based radar EW system. The system is designed to jam radars. KORAL conducts intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and degrades combat capabilities of drones.

Turkey reportedly used KORAl in Syria, Azerbaijan and Libya.

Clearly, the modern battlefield is changing with state of the art drone capability available to various nations.