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Ukraine dismisses reports of thermobaric warheads on upgraded Shahed-136 explosive drones

Ukraine denies thermobaric warheads in Russia’s upgraded Shahed drones; confirms new high-explosive warhead. Defense Express investigates the warhead’s origin, challenging earlier reports.
Shahed drone components. Screenshot: RFE/RL’s Novoye Vremya

Despite unverified reports suggesting the installation of a thermobaric warhead in Russia’s Shahed-136 explosive drones, Ukrainian government agencies are currently denying these claims. According to Defense Express, inquiries with sappers responsible for studying and neutralizing Russian long-range weaponry revealed that none of the Shahed-136 munitions, including those recently downed, contained thermobaric warheads.

Defense Express notes that the photo that recently emerged on social media shows a new but high-explosive warhead used in Shahed, marked “Geran-K.”

Shahed warhead with “Geranium-K” markings:  the alleged thermobaric warhead (left) and a “standard” high-explosive warhead from another downed drone. Source: Defense Express

This туц warhead weighs 40 kg, has a diameter of 31 cm and tungsten fragmentation elements. Defense Express says it is currently believed that this warhead was not designed specifically for the Shaheds, but appears to have been repurposed from existing aviation rockets due to its size and weight compatibility with Shahed-136.

UK intel: As Russia improves Iranian drones, Ukraine keeps downing most of them

It’s noteworthy that Russia employs three variations of Shahed-136 munitions. The original Iranian variant, marked in Russia as “Geran-M,” has an original Iranian 48.5 kg warhead. Additionally, “Geran-Y” marking-bearing drones, fitted with Russian navigation systems, also utilize this combat component.

The Geran-K marked Shahed drones, newly observed this year, feature a different combat component mentioned above. This Shahed differs from the “old” version in terms of production technology and other details.

A 40-kg high-explosive fragmentation warhead of a Shahed-136 aircraft missile with the “Geran-K” marking. Photo: Defense Express

“At the same time, it should be understood that Russia continues to develop Shaheds, which has become its main long-range weapon. That is why the emergence of new types of warheads on these aircraft is quite likely,” Defense Express says.

Russia uses the Iranian-made Shahed-series drones to conduct daily nighttime long-range air attacks against Ukraine.

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