Watch Ukrainian kamikaze drone dive and set a Russian oil refinery on fire
A video of an alleged Ukrainian drone hitting an oil refinery miles from the Ukrainian border has emerged on social media, Business Insider reported.
#Ukraine: A Kamikaze drone struck the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery, in #Rostov Oblast, Russia; causing a large fire.— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) June 22, 2022
Although the precise type is unclear, it appears to be based on the UA PD-1 or PD-2 series of reconnaissance UAVs. The area is around 150km from the front line. pic.twitter.com/EssUu6PxyB
It is not clear who captured this video and Reuters reported that it has not been able to independently verify the footage.
The conflict between Ukraine and Russia has now entered its fifth month, and the video appears to show that Ukraine has now gone on the offensive. Although Ukraine has relied heavily on drones in its warfare, it has done so to negate Russian advances on its own territory, such as taking down tanks or hitting supply lines.
According to Business Insider, two drones were found at the Novoshakhtinsk oil refinery in Rostov, in Western Russia, which is located barely eight km (five miles) from the Ukrainian border.
Whose drone is it anyway?
As heard in the video above, the drone is quite loud, and that may have been the reason why somebody shot a video of it in the first place. While it is difficult to make out what type of drone it is exactly, it appears to have a twin tail, resembling the Turkish Bayraktar drone.
However, a Forbes report states that the profile of the drone is comparatively smaller than a Bayraktar and resembles the Ukrainian PD-1 drone type. Interestingly, the PD-1 was put together through a crowdfunding effort by UKRSpecSystems, after the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Built by a group of drone enthusiasts, the PD-1 stands for People's Drone 1 and has a ten-foot (3 m) wingspan while boasting endurance beyond five hours. According to the website, the PD-1 is designed for surveillance purposes and can carry payloads up to 42 pounds (19 kg).
The PD series of drones are also autonomous and can fly themselves if they lose contact with the operator. This makes them ideal for use in a kamikaze attack like this. According to Russian state media, one drone hit a crude distillation center unit at 8:40 am, causing a fire, while a second drone hit the crude reservoirs at 9:23 am local time. It is not clear which of these strikes the video captured.
Reports also suggest that the drone may be a commercial drone of Chinese origin, which is comparatively cheaper to procure and deploy in a suicide mission.
What about Russian air defenses?
Either way, Russian media has confirmed drone strikes within its borders, raising further questions about the quality of Russian air defenses. As seen in the video above, the drone did make quite some noise and, with stealth capabilities, should have been visible on the radar for quite some time. Long enough to shoot it down with surface-to-air missiles, if not to scramble some jets into action.
To its credit, if it indeed was a PD-1, the drone uses an inertial navigation system (INS) that makes it immune to GPS jamming, if the Russians even attempted that. For defense equipment supplying the nation, the inability to strike down a slow-flying drone before it hits a valuable asset like a crude reservoir raises serious questions about gaps in its air defenses or the origin of the attack itself.
We will have to wait and see what happened. In the meantime, the fire has been contained and nobody has been injured in the fire, Business Insider reported.