On 13 March, Major General Igor Yevgenyevich Konashenkov, chief spokesman for the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, claimed that 128 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of the Ukrainian Armed Forces had been destroyed by Russian forces since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine (although he spuriously maintained the line of “special military operation’).
If correct, this would mean that Ukraine’s entire known fleet of some 50 plus armed Bayraktar TB2 UAVs had been destroyed, although Turkey is reported to have delivered more during the invasion.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on 9 March that his government would provide $50 million in new aid to Ukraine. Some of this will be used to purchase WesCam surveillance cameras for Ukraine’s TB2 UAVs. Last April, Canada had stopped exports of L3Harris Wescam to Turkey because TB2s were used by Azeri forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The destruction of several Russian Forpost UAVs have been confirmed including at least one that was originally built as an Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) Searcher II which was shot down on 11 March.
A Ukraine Soviet-era jet Tu-143 tactical UAV was destroyed on 8 March and the same type was involved in a bizarre incident two days later. On 11 March, Croatia’s National Security Council said “a pilotless military aircraft”, later identified as a Tu-143 and currently only used by Ukraine forces, entered Croatian airspace overnight from neighbouring Hungary at a speed of 377 knots (700 km/hr) and an altitude of 4,300 feet (1,300 metres) and crashed near Zagreb. No one was injured and no buildings were damaged. On 14 March a Russian Orlan-10 flew 80km into Romania, a NATO country.
Several Russian ENICS E95 ramjet-powered aerial targets have been found in Ukraine, which have been used to draw out Ukraine air defences and there is speculation that a large number of Russian An-2 biplanes moved to Seshcha airbase near the eastern Ukrainian border and may be modified into UAVs for the same role.
by David Oliver