Shot after shot pounded into the Russian missile battery hidden by the lighthouse on Snake Island, a Black Sea rock 22 miles (35km) from the Ukrainian coast. The edited video, released by the Ukrainian military, showed the strike and its aftermath – all taken from a Turkish-designed Bayraktar TB2 drone.
Until then, evidence of the TB2 – a remotely piloted killer drone with a range of up to 190 miles – had largely disappeared from the conflict. The assumption was that the two dozen or so that Ukraine had bought from Turkey had been shot down and Ankara, not wanting to upset Russia, had declined to supply more.
This is not to suggest that drones are irrelevant. However, it reflects in part the reality that for both sides, the larger armed drones – the TB2s on the Ukrainian side and Russia’s nearest equivalent, the Orion drone - have not been present in large numbers and once eliminated are not easy to replace.
Sam Bendett, a drone expert with the US Center for Naval Analyses thinktank, said the Ukrainian military had taken advantage of the fact that Russia did not control all the airspace and that it did not have persistent electronic warfare defences “with some very accurate and significant strikes”. But he added: “What is needed from their perspective is to do so on a much larger scale.”
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