Espreso. Global

New Ukrainian UAVs, intelligence naval strike on Crimea and frontline update. Serhiy Zgurets's column

7 June, 2024 Friday

Ukrainian intelligence maritime drones have mastered passing through Russian barriers in Black Sea in practice


DIU naval strike on Crimea

Today was an interesting day, given the use of Ukrainian-made munitions against Russian forces. Off the coast of the temporarily occupied Crimea, naval drones destroyed a Russian tugboat. This is a common practice for Magura 5 drones. Russia felt completely safe near the village of Chornomorske, as it was blocked by the boom barriers. The Defence Intelligence of Ukraine's maritime drones practiced passing through Russia's barriers. Such actions show that Magura drones can eventually reach both Sevastopol Bay and Novorossiysk Bay, where Russia is currently hiding its warships under the protection of boom barriers.

A strike on a Russian oil refinery

On Thursday night, in the Rostov region of Russia, the Novoshakhtyn oil refinery was struck by aerial drones. Two, or all, of the refinery's primary oil processing units were destroyed. It is symbolic that exactly two years ago, this refinery was the first to be attacked by Ukrainian drones. The destruction of Russian refinery facilities is carried out by the Ukrainian Defense Forces as part of a long-term concept to limit, and ideally completely eliminate, Russia's ability to make money from oil and thus finance hostilities. Such strikes are more effective than relying on sanctions.

Military operations

The situation on the front line remains extremely tense. Yesterday, Ukrainian Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrskyi reported on four areas where the Russian army is most active. According to him, Russia's efforts in the Kharkiv and Kupyansk directions are interconnected. The second pair of directions are Pokrovsk and Kurakhove. Moreover, Russia's advance is blocked north of Kharkiv, and Ukraine's counterattacks continue to drive the Russian army out of Vovchansk. There is a video of the capture of Russian soldiers after a counterattack by the marines of the 36th Separate Marine Brigade. The Russian attack aircraft units were defeated, and company commanders and several soldiers surrendered.

The situation around Ocheretyne is quite difficult. Russia is trying to expand the gray zone. There is a certain advance near Novooleksandrivka and Arkhanhelske. The situation in the Chasiv Yar area is also extremely difficult. The Russian army is trying to attack there from the north, south and east. Chasiv Yar is an extremely important hill in terms of Ukraine's defense. Now the main task of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is to hold the area, eliminated the enemy forces, build up reserves, including strengthening arsenals with supplies from partners and Ukrainian defense companies.

Raybird unmanned aircraft system 

Today, unique models of unmanned vehicles are used on the front line. One of them is the Raybird unmanned reconnaissance system by Skyeton. This development formally belongs to the tactical level, but in terms of its capabilities, it is an operational-level reconnaissance UAV that can stay in the air for more than 24 hours. It can cover a distance of up to 2000 km.

Roman Kniazhenko, director of Skyeton, a manufacturer of unmanned aerial systems, described the most typical operations of the complex.

"Indeed, the system is capable of spending more than a day in the air. This gives us certain opportunities when we can monitor certain areas without leaving and without losing any information. The main task for our equipment is also deep reconnaissance, when we go behind enemy lines at a distance of 80 to 120 km. This is a very important mission. It is our system that helps us find targets, destroy logistics, and adjust the fire of both cannon and rocket artillery. There are a lot of tasks as this is a platform that can perform almost all tasks. It all depends on the payload we put on it,” he said.

There are a maximum of five complexes with this combination of technical parameters in the world. The company had a basis for this complex to be as autonomous as possible to ensure that it could perform its functions with minimal military involvement. According to the company's director, the system's autonomy is primarily about system reliability. It eliminates any operator errors during a particular mission.

"We need to understand what war is. A person at war can be distracted, it is a very difficult environment. People work under such stress that it is very difficult to imagine. If you have to check the parameters every second or minute, control the plane, it will inevitably lead to mistakes. In our case, you don't need to control the aircraft, you just need to give it commands, and it will execute them. There is protection against commands that do not need to be performed. Let's say it's working. Today, our planes are flying much larger missions than other aircraft - this is the first thing. Secondly, it is much easier for a person to perform any task if they are backed up by various subsystems. Unfortunately, today it is impossible to automate a system such as surveillance. That is, the aircraft's camera needs to be controlled, and this is probably the biggest problem - the workload on operators. In our case, when we fly for 10 to 30 hours, people get very tired, but we solve this problem on the spot and change the crew,” said Kniazhenko.

The volume of orders has increased. But it is too early to talk about orders for 3 years or even one year ahead. The company, like all Ukrainian producers, feels that it has insufficient funds, says Kniazhenko.

"We reinvest all the money we earn in new developments and production. That's why we are moving faster than we receive new orders,” he explained.

According to the director of the Skyeton manufacturing company, there are many problems with reservations today because it is a long process. Sometimes it is simply impossible for a company to reserve a person, they can be taken to the army because of the long reservation procedure. It needs to be simplified and made quicker.

"If an aircraft design engineer is drafted into the army, he will never use even a third of his potential that he can do in our company. And to get this education, for a person to gain the necessary experience, it will take not two years, not three, but 5-10 years. There are few such people, and they cannot be trained very quickly. You need to understand that there are no people in a private company who are here “just for fun.” If a person is working for us, it means that he or she is 100% engaged and performs very important parts. When our storekeeper was mobilized, we realized a week later that he was a very important person in the company. In a private company, every employee is money we spend, a resource, and this person is very important for the company,” said Kniazhenko.

An enterprise that fulfills a state defense order can book its employees 100%. But booking takes a lot of time, and military enlistment offices are not very cooperative in this matter.

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