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ISW: Russia deploys cheaper domestic drones alongside Shaheds to evade Ukrainian defenses

Russia aims to maximize impact on critical targets in a such way, as new Italmas drones can evade defences and strike targets the Shaheds can’t reach.
Italmas UAV. Credit: Defense Express
ISW: Russia deploys cheaper domestic drones alongside Shaheds to evade Ukrainian defenses

Russia is expanding its arsenal of UAVs to attack Ukrainian infrastructure, deploying new domestically produced drones alongside the Iranian-made Shahed-131/136 models that have been used in recent weeks, ISW reported.

Russian media reported on 23 October that Russian forces used lightweight Italmas drones for the first time during a recent attack in Kyiv Oblast. According to milbloggers, the Italmas models are cheaper and harder to detect than Shaheds but carry smaller payloads.

The Institute for the Study of War also reported that Russia is likely using the Italmas drones together with Shaheds to maximize impact.

“The Shaheds deliver heavy blows with their large warheads, while the cheaper Italmas drones can evade defences and strike targets the Shaheds can’t reach,” an analyst told Russian media.

The Institute for the Study of War said that Russia appears to be diversifying its drone arsenal to maintain its aerial campaign against Ukrainian infrastructure as winter approaches.

Earlier this month, ISW assessed that Russia was expanding its stockpile of various missiles, guided bombs and drones for strikes on Ukrainian targets. The introduction of Italmas drones is likely part of this wider effort to acquire new munitions.

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern defence forces, Natalia Humeniuk, also said that Russia employed new tactics in recent strikes on October 20-21 involving simultaneous use of various missiles, drones, and air bombs.

Humeniuk stated that “this is definitely an attempt by the enemy to inflict a missile strike as effectively as possible because they know that we cannot work on guided air bombs.”

She noted that this is the time that Russia used cruise missiles and guided air bombs were used simultaneously, adding that “there is an intensification of tactical aviation, the use of ground-based missile systems and missile launches along with guided air bombs.”

Other takeaways from the ISW’s report:

  • Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in eastern and southern Ukraine on October 24 and advanced south of Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
  • Russian authorities are intensifying mobilization efforts targeting Central Asian migrant communities in Russia.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky highlighted diminishing Russian control over the Black Sea and Ukraine’s temporary grain corridors during a speech at the Crimean Platform summit on October 24.
  • Russian forces conducted offensive operations near Avdiivka on October 24 and made confirmed advances northeast of Avdiivka.

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