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What are ‘kamikaze’ drones?



Kamikaze drones have showered down on Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv

‘Kamikaze’ drones were launched by Russian forces into Kyiv, killing at least four people and injuring many more.

The drones have destroyed civilian areas, far from the front lines of the war because of their ability to hover and attack unnoticed.

The ‘kamikaze’ drones appear to be Iranian-made and are believed to include an Iranian-supplied weapon called the Shahed-136.

There are calls for urgent sanctions against Iran, however, Iran denies involvement.

What are ‘kamikaze’ drones?

Kamikaze drones are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that are designed to crash into a target, causing damage or destruction.

Kamikaze drones have been used in military conflicts in recent years, and have become an increasingly popular weapon due to their low cost and ability to cause significant damage.

Credit: Bloomberg

Kamikaze drones offer a number of advantages over traditional weapons systems.

They are relatively cheap and easy to produce, and can cause significant damage to targets. Kamikaze drones are also difficult to intercept, making them a difficult target for enemy defences.

Kamikaze drones are typically outfitted with explosives, and are often remote-controlled by operators who guide them towards their targets.

An engine of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), what Ukrainian authorities consider to be an Iranian made suicide drone Shahed-136, are seen found after Russian strike on fuel storage facilities, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine October 6, 2022. REUTERS/Vitalii Hnidyi

While kamikaze drones can be used for a variety of purposes, they are most commonly used as a form of air-to-ground attack.

The drones are often described as a “loitering munition” because they hover in a designated area until a target is identified. The drones are small in size, disposable and are not easily detected in the air defence zone.

They also travel long-distances, making them hard to trace back to a source. Unlike traditional war drones, ‘kamikaze’s’ do not return to an operator, they’re purely designed to explode and detonate.

Iran’s linked to kamikaze drones

The ‘kamikaze’ drones used in the recent attacks on Kyiv appear to be Iranian-made and are believed to include an Iranian-supplied weapon called the Shahed-136.

The Shahed component of the drones means they’re capable of carrying a large amount of weight, approximately 50kg, which is a lot more than traditional war drones.

The Ukrainian military and U.S. intelligence community insists Russia is using drones made by Iran.

Kamikaze drone

Earlier in the year, U.S. officials claimed Russia had purchased drones and was equipping its forces on how to operate them. Ukraine President claimed Russia bought over 2000 of the Iranian-made weapons.

There are calls for urgent sanctions against Iran, however, Iran denies any involvement.

“Iran has repeatedly declared that it is not a party in the war between Russia and Ukraine and has not sent any weapons to either side.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Spokesman Nasser Kanaani

However, Ukraine consistently claims it has recently shot down the drones in its country. They claim Russia has renamed the Shaheds to “Geran.”

Previously used in conflict

Kamikaze drones have been used in a number of military conflicts in recent years.

Kamikaze drones have been used extensively in the Syrian civil war, where they have been employed by both government forces and rebel groups.

They were first used in Syria, and have since been employed in the Israel-Gaza conflict, the war in Yemen, and other conflicts.

Kamikaze drones have also been used by terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State (IS) group, to carry out attacks.

“What you’re seeing here is a collectivisation of the bully club, or the autocrat club. Xi Jinping & Vladimir Putin… Iran is part of this club.

misha zelinsky, war correspondent

More air defence systems

Ukraine also uses kamikaze drones. They use ‘RAM II,’ developed through crowd funding in Ukraine. While the U.S. has been supplying numerous forms of aerial defence to the war-torn nation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is pleading for more.

Ukrainian officials are pleading with their Western allies to supply further air defence systems to help destroy the drones before they make contact.

The recent kamikaze attacks have intensified the need for further support in the air to detect and shoot down the drones.

The systems required to defend against kamikaze drones are more complex in comparison to traditional drones and missile.

Holly is an anchor and reporter at Ticker. She's experienced in live reporting, and has previously covered the Covid-19 pandemic on-location. She's passionate about telling stories in business, climate and health.

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