The October 12 Defence Intelligence update by the British Defense Ministry on the situation in Ukraine sums up the use of Iranian-made Shahed-series drones by Russia and concludes that the Shahed-136 kamikaze drones are “unlikely to be satisfactorily fulfilling the deep strike function which Russia probably aspired to use it for.”
- Starting from at least August 2022, Russia deployed Iranian-manufactured uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) including the one-way attack Shahed-136 variant.
- Russia used the Shahed-series drones in its extensive wave of strikes on 10 October 2022.
- Previously, the Ukrainian General Staff said that Russia “had launched a total of 86 Shahed-136s and claimed that 60% had been destroyed in the air.”
- The Shahed-136s are “slow and fly at low altitudes making lone aircraft easy to target using conventional air defences” yet there’s a realistic possibility that Russia has “achieved some success by attacking with several UAVs at the same time.”
- “Despite a reported range of 2,500 km, the Shahed-136 only has a small explosive payload.”
According to British Intelligence, “with Russian tactical combat jets still achieving limited effect over Ukrainian territory, the lack of a reliable, sustainable, and accurate operational-level strike capability is likely one of Russia’s most significant capability gaps in Ukraine.”