The Russian military has begun to use loitering munitions, commonly known as kamikaze drones, against Ukrainian forces.
The drone didn't explode, however it is unknown if it malfunctioned or it was downed using Ukrainian electronic warfare systems. pic.twitter.com/Ju38t0Qhrp
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 12, 2022
On March 12, Ukrainian sources shared photos showing the remains of a Russian-made KUB-BLA loitering munition in the heart of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The munition reportedly struck a target in the Podil neighborhood.
This was the first documented use of a loitering munition since the beginning of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine on February 24.
The KUB-BLA was designed by the ZALA Aero Group, a subsidiary of the Kalashnikov Concern. The loitering munition has an endurance of 30 minutes and a speed of 80 to 130 kilometers per hour. The munition is armed with a three-kilogram warhead.
While the KUB-BLA was first presented to the public in 2019, it was successfully used to target militants in Syria as early as 2015.
The KUB-BLA is mainly designed to engage stationary ground targets. The ZALA Aero Group developed another loitering munition with the ability to track and engage moving targets, the Lancet. The munition, which was also employed in Syria, has an endurance of up to 40 minutes, a speed of 80 to 110 kilometers per hour and can be armed with different types of warheads.
Loitering munitions like the KUB-BLA and the Lancet will enable the Russian military to detect and engage targets located behind the line of sight with high precision on a short notice. The small radar and infrared signature of these munitions will make it hard for Ukrainian forces to stop them.