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Ukrainian drone attack on Russian airfield hits gliding bomb depot, possibly damages aircraft

The massive Ukrainian drone attack on 27 April was centered around Kushchyovskaya airfield. As well, an oil refinery in Krasnodar Krai halted production
Ukrainian drone strike Kushchyovskaya airfield
Geolocated footage of the aftermath of the Ukrainian drone strike at Kushshyovskaya airfield on 27 April. Credit: Dnipro OSINT
Ukrainian drone attack on Russian airfield hits gliding bomb depot, possibly damages aircraft

The Ukrainian drone attack on Krasnodar Krai overnight on 27 April has resulted in a hit on a depot of modules used to produce deadly gliding bombs and had likely damaged several aircraft, OSINT analysts have confirmed.

The attack aims to deliver an asymmetric strike at Russia’s guided aerial bombs onslaught. Ukraine’s lack of air defense capabilities to intercept these powerful bombs has allowed Russia to seize strategic cities like Avdiivka by flattening the city to the ground and to pummel key frontline cities like Kharkiv.

The attack by domestically-developed drones comes amid Ukraine’s lack of capacity to strike objects on Russian soil, as its partners prohibit such strikes with Western weapons.

Videos circulating after the attack appeared to show UPMK kits used to upgrade dumb air bombs into precision-guided munitions. UPMK kits, standing for “Controlled Gliding Modernized Kit,” have allowed Russia to tap into a virtually endless supply of Soviet-era dumb FAB-3000 bombs, turning them into a standoff GPS precision weapon with a 300-1,500 kg warhead.

Ukrainian OSINT analyst Dnipro OSINT located the coordinates of the attack on Kushchyovskaya airfield as 46.53538929497081, 39.54926852818641 and confirmed that a warehouse with the UPMK modules was hit.

OSINT analyst Brady Africk obtained satellite imagery of the Kushchyovskaya airfield before and after the strike, analyzing that several locations of the airfield were hit. Military aircraft were likely damaged, Africk believes.

According to aviation expert Valeriy Romanenko, the Kushchyovskaya military airfield is home to Russia’s 195th Training Air Base, formerly the 797th Training Aviation Regiment and hosts a variety of aircraft, including Su-27, MiG-29, and L-39. The Russians train both their own pilots and foreign pilots there. For example, Iranian pilots were trained at this airfield on Yak-130 aircraft. They could very likely have been damaged.

Russian pilots were also trained to use UPMKs with FAB-1500 and larger caliber bombs, Romanenko explains. This airfield served as a combat training point for pilots to launch strikes with gliding bombs, which explains the warehouse with guided bombs there.

“The strike on this depot shows that many of the universal planning and correction modules that the Russians use to drop guided aerial bombs on Ukrainian ground forces have been destroyed. The [Ukrainian] soldiers on the front line will feel better for some time after the destruction of this ammunition depot, as they will be hit less often,” Romanenko said.

Although it is still unclear whether aircraft were damaged in the attack, Defense Express reports that ESA satellite imagery confirms the presence of Su-34s at the airfield before the attack.

Massive Ukrainian drone attack on Krasnodar Krai

The attack targeted a military airfield in Kushchyovskaya and two oil refineries in Ilsk and Slavyansk-on-Kuban, Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing sources from the Ukrainian Security Service.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense claimed to “destroy and intercept” 66 drones over Krasnodar Krai alone. Reuters reported that the oil refinery in Slavyansk-on-Kuban was forced to halt operations. The 4 million tons per year facility has been attacked before, and this time, it used air defense and EW protection means.

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However, damage to the oil product separation unit and fire could not be prevented, and production was partially halted. According to the latest data, the damage is insignificant, The Bell reported.

However, the Kushchyovskaya airfield was the main target of the attack, according to the Mash Telegram channel: an attack of 38 drones was reportedly repelled. 12 drones each attacked the Ilsk refinery and the Slavyansk ECO plant, Mash claims.

Rybar channel, meanwhile, claimed that the Kushchyovskaya airfield was damaged, and 10 drones were used on the Slavyansk refinery and 17 on the Ilsk refinery, with damage to a rectification column, and an unspecified number on the Afip refinery. Ukraine has established mass production of drones, their accuracy and other characteristics have increased, while Russian military aircraft are standing without shelters, the channel said.

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