Espreso. Global

Ukraine's Defence Intelligence's operation against Russia's Kh-59 missile plant was successful. Serhiy Zgurets' column

28 November, 2023 Tuesday

Regular kamikaze drone strikes can, if not completely disrupt, then really delay the efforts of the Russian enterprise that assembles and manufactures Kh-59 missiles

Ukraine attacks Smolensk Aviation Plant in Russia

Drones attacked the Smolensk Aviation Plant in Russia, 300 kilometres from the border with Ukraine. This plant produces the Kh-59 missiles used by the enemy to attack our peaceful cities. A number of agencies, citing their own sources in the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence (HUR), reported that the Directorate had confirmed the successful operation and that the target had been hit. However, it is still difficult to determine the exact impact of the strike on the company.

This is not the first time that the Smolensk Aviation Plant has been attacked. The initial strike was launched on October 1. At that time, the HUR reported that 4 drones were launched, 3 of which hit the plant. Then another attack was reported on November 17. During the strikes on November 26, one drone was allegedly shot down and the other was suppressed by electronic warfare.

We are now talking about systematic and methodical kamikaze drone strikes that can, if not completely disrupt, then really slow down the pace of work at this Russian enterprise that assembles and manufactures Kh-59 missiles.

The question is whether this practice should be extended to other Russian defense industry enterprises, which is part of the action plan being implemented by the HUR.

Frontline Situation

Despite the snow and cold snap, the areas around Avdiivka and Bakhmut remain the hottest spots. However, the situation along the entire frontline, which is more than 1,000 kilometers long, remains extremely difficult. Heavy fighting is taking place around Bakhmut. The enemy attacks Ukrainian positions along the entire contact line. On November 26, 7 assaults were repelled there.

map of fighting near Bakhmut

On the northern flank, the Russians operate near Berkhivka in the direction of Bohdanivka and Khromove. I can assume that the enemy's goal, if they have the strength, is to get to Chasiv Yar along the line of heights. This is because Chasiv Yar is the key to Kostiantynivka, Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

Fighting is also ongoing on the southern flank, in Klishchiivka, Andriivka and Kurdiumivka. The Russian invaders are trying to approach these settlements in order to break through to some of the dominant heights controlled by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Russian troops are also trying to regain control in the area of the railroad, near Klishchiivka. The enemy is counter attacking in small groups. Enemy aircraft are operating, although due to the weather, the use of aircraft has become somewhat less frequent. But from time to time, the invaders use high-explosive aircraft bombs that are dropped on the contact line.

A couple of days ago, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who said that near Klishchiivka, the Ukrainian Armed Forces inflicted significant losses on the enemy, primarily due to artillery. Thanks to the use of several self-propelled guns, they managed to inflict significant losses on the enemy and prevented them from advancing to Klishchiivka.

Andriy Babychev, a serviceman with the 93rd Brigade Kholodnyi Yar from Bakhmut, said that the enemy is putting a lot of pressure on Khromove in the direction of Bohdanivka. The enemy is trying to stabilize its defense line, because the Defense Forces bypassed Bakhmut from the left side, from the south. Currently, the occupiers have almost leveled their defense line, but they still want to pass. The second hotspot is Klishchiivka. Brigade's area of responsibility is from Andriivka to Klishchiivka. Another brigade is on the left side of Klishchiivka. Fierce fighting is constantly going on there. It is the enemy who constantly moves infantry, shelling our positions with artillery. In Andriivka, the enemy is also pressing, but in small groups. They are coming in groups of 3, but we see them and cover the artillery.

The serviceman noted that the enemy still uses the same tactics. The Russian army is coming with manpower, constantly replenishing its reserves. Currently, the artillery is performing at 100%. The guys are using Mavic drones to coordinate artillery. There is could be a problem with the use of drones due to challenging weather conditions. The enemy passes by, but it is difficult to spot him. As soon as the Russian troops enter the area, the first thing they do is look for old dugouts and trenches and restore them, because Ukrainian artillery is working very closely on them. If they are not dug in, they are killed.

Defense Technology Development Cluster BRAVE1

Next, let's talk about new technologies for the Armed Forces. General Valerii Zaluzhnyi spoke about the so-called new gunpowder, i.e. new solutions that should provide a breakthrough response to the balance of power and capabilities on the battlefield. This symbiosis of new technologies and tactics, partly these recipes, is sought by the BRAVE1 Defense Technology Development Cluster. This platform was founded by the Ministry of Digital Transformation, the Ministry of Defense, the General Staff, the National Security and Defense Council, the Ministry of Technology and the Ministry of Economy. BRAVE1 is aimed at accelerating certain technological solutions created by various private companies or initiative teams to ensure that these solutions are promoted to the Ministry of Defense as soon as possible. Or to look for options when these ideas will actually become a product or a military product that will actually have an impact on the battlefield.

Nataliia Kushnerska, Head of Defense Tech Cluster BRAVE1, said that over 7 months of operation, the platform has already had more than 780 developments. A very fast examination has been established, which is carried out by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, involving more than 500 experts to evaluate developments. Accordingly, the developments that are highly rated are sent to the Defense Ministry. Many of the developments are being tested or are already working on the front line. As for the grant program, these are grants of $5,000 and $25,000. More than 80 grants worth $1,530,000 have already been funded. For many teams, this was a good opportunity to finalize their prototype products or purchase equipment.

The head of the defense tech cluster BRAVE1 noted five areas of work of the cluster for the development of defense technologies: robots, ground robotic systems, UAVs, artificial intelligence, and demining. There are already about 80 robotic systems, 25 of which have already been tested at the range. Several developments have been approved for operation.

Kushnerska added that next year it is planned to increase grant support for new products to $10,000, $20,000, $50,000, $100,000, and even $250,000. It is also planned to hold competitions and hackathons (a hackathon is an event during which various software development specialists work intensively and cohesively together - ed.) on certain narrow niche solutions that are necessary for our security and defense forces.

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