Ukraine War Day #213: Are Iranian Drones All They Are Cracked Up To Be?

Dear Readers:

In this course of this conflict we have seen that the Iranians have been good pals to Russia. Today I have this piece by reporter Anton Nikitin. His source is a man named Boris Rozhin, who works as an expert for the Center of Military-Political Journalistics.

According to Rozhin, yesterday (Friday, Sept 23) was the day when use of Iranian kamikaze drones went off the charts. On multiple fronts, all at once. [yalensis: I can’t help but wonder if things all came together synchronistically after a period of training and absorption into the existing structure of the Russian BTG’s.]

Military expert Boris Rozhin

The sudden activation of the suicide drones on multiple fronts came as an unpleasant surprise to the Ukrainians.

Rozhin: “A couple of the drones were shot down, but nonetheless several of them reached their targets, one of which was the destruction of a decision-making center in Odessa. In this particular case, the [Ukrainian anti-air] was not able to intercept it.”

Ticked off by the warm friendship displayed between Iran and Russia, the Ukrainian Foreign Service deprived their Iranian Ambassador of his accreditation and expelled several Iranian diplomats from Kiev.

The Americans and Europeans are also taking note, that Moscow is starting to utilize Iranian drones more and more. Why? Probably because they are said to be really good.

Westies Running Out Of Tanks

Meanwhile, in a related story, I have this piece by reporter Alexei Degtyarev. Western countries have depleted their supplies of T-72 tanks, so now they are sending Ukraine T-55’s (actually M-55’s). Problem: The Ukrainians don’t have ammo for these new tanks, so all they got is something to drive around in.

The T-55 is of Soviet design. The Western variety is the M-55, which is souped-up (according to NATO standards) T-55, with modernized engine and armor. The cannon is a 105mm standard NATO cannon. However, the Ukrainian ammo doesn’t fit it, because it’s the wrong calibre. This according to a source in the Military Watch Magazine.

People used to call Afghanistan the “Elephants Graveyard of Empires”, I wonder if they will start to call the Ukraine the Elephants Graveyard of weapons.

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27 Responses to Ukraine War Day #213: Are Iranian Drones All They Are Cracked Up To Be?

  1. Richard Beesen says:

    I read with pleasure every report you make. I especially appreciate that you speak Russian either as your mother language or one that you have mastered and continue to master. One never stops studying Russian, I would say, and even some native speakers and students of do so. By the way, my Masters Diploma in French Language and Literature notes that I earned that degree at « Universitatis YALENSIS » as did my daughter’s Bachelors Degree from the same « Universitatis YALENSIS »

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    • BM says:

      Well, well, well! Maybe we can persuade Yalensis to give us a DLitt. in “Readings in Awful Avalanches”

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    • yalensis says:

      Thank you for reading my blog, Richard, I really appreciate that! When I decided on the nik “yalensis” I was not aware of the connection to Yale University, but afterwards I did get a lot of teasing about that. I picked my nom de plume randomly, from an encyclopedia entry, thinking it was the name of a bird. I also liked it because it was vaguely reminiscent of the name of a Polish/Latvian set of relatives from one branch of my family tree.

      Anyhow, there really is a bird with that name, but only because the man who discovered it was an ornithologist from Yale, as I discovered later!

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  2. Liborio Guaso says:

    What interests the West is that time passes and enough civilians die to serve to support the anti-Russian and anti-Chinese media shows for the control of their own population, which is the only thing that matters to them.

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  3. Sacha says:

    There is still one thing that brothers me. Ukr sources said it’s an Iranian drone under the name of герань2 but the Russian MOD officially denied importing any kind of UAVs. You need to be trained to operate such drones so I saw only two possibilities

    1 Russians had signed a contract a long time ago, sent crews to be trained in Iran and only officially now use them without fully admitting.

    3 Iran sent their crews who are operating on russian ground.

    I noticed that western sources never mentioned this issue. Who is operating the drones?

    They may say that герань 2 looks like a shahed but it’s not a proof. Iran has drones looking like American ones and it doesn’t prove the US supplied them with such drones.

    If Russia buys drones in urgency while it already has loitering drones, it would send a negative message about the capabilities of Russian forces. And why would Russians have forgotten to produce this particular type of kamikaze drone?

    I would have two other hypothesis.

    1 Russia and Iran are collaborating on this matter since the capture of the American reaper drone and both countries worked on retro engineering (without downplaying Iranian capabilities, I would bet on russian scientists more) and they both share the technology, but with an Iranian based factory Russia can deny taking part into retro engineering and deny the cooperation of the two countries

    Russia does produce Iranian drones under license but play the Israeli game, don’t admit, don’t deny. Because it has drones but not of this type. And Russia acts like a weapon buyer like others.

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    • BM says:

      Everything concerning alleged drones from Iran are under a deep haze. Russia vehemently denies having imported any drones at all, saying that they have the best drones available anywhere, and more than enough of them. Martyanov, who I generally regard as a pretty reliable source, has repeatedly ridiculed the suggestion that Russia would even dream of getting drones from Iran (one of his main arguments seems to be that all Russian weapons are networked; Iranian drones cannot connect to the networl and therefore are unsuitable for Russian systems). Bernhard at MoA has flip-flopped at various times between ridiculing the suggestion that Russia would buy drones from Iran and declaring that Russia has bought drones fro Iran; but I don’t think he has demonstrated adequate grounds for either assumption.

      My personal hunch is that Martyanov is being overly dogmatic and is over-stating his case (which he tends to do). Also I have difficulty believing the Russian position that they have enoug drones and don’t need more. If that is so, why don’t they have surveillance drones [and operators and analysts!] to be able to see and quickly identify everything that moves in the battlefield area (for example to see immediately every Himars as soon as it moves or fires; every troop movement; every movement of equipment or fuel or ammunition; every shipment of weapons coming in from the West; etc). The area involved is vast, so – to my inexpert mind – they should have a vast number surveillance drones/operators and an even more vast number of analysts processing the data in realtime. The very fact that they currently don’t seem to be able to see everything that moves on the front in real time seems to indicate there is such a need. But I am no expert. On the other hand, I do wonder if it is really worth Russia bothering with Iranian kamikaze drones – surely they are much better off relying on their tried and tested and well integrated weapons?

      As far as the networking is concerned, theoretically there is obviously no reason why Russia should not buy mass-produced Iranian drones and add their own electronics to add the required networking. In combination with that thesis, I could well understand that Russia might want to use the Iranian drones not as a replacement for her own weapons but as a pure investigation of the potential for that type of drone through real trials on the battle field. I rather think that is more likely to be what we are seeing here.

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      • stevit65 says:

        There will be nothing strange for Russia to import iranian drones. Iran has been one of the more enthusiast developer of all kind of drones, and is one of the world leader in this field. Russia has been less enthusiastic in this specific field (Russia having other priorities, such as strategic weapons, hypersonic missiles, ballistic and cruise missiles, S-400 and so on). So it’s not unlikely for me that Russia is buying iranian “loitering munitions” (perhaps as kit to be assembled), even if only as a stopgap until they are replaced by some russian equivalent. BTW, one of the UAV produced by Russia is actually a licenced version/development of the israelian IAI Searcher

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        • yalensis says:

          Great discussion. I don’t know the answer either, but I have the feeling that Russia didn’t have enough drones when the SMO started; and also had not fully developed its philosophy of how to integrate drones with the other components of each BTG. I remember seeing these discussions and debates in the Russian press. Military innovation is always tough to do, but no time like the middle of a war to shake things up and get people innovating. (I’m not being sarcastic.)

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          • Sacha says:

            I had read an interesting paper some months ago saying Russia didn’t expect ukr to get access to 5k+ starlink systems and lagged behind when it comes to integrating drones at the platoon level and not only at the brigade level. But I apologize for not reminding where I read it.

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            • yalensis says:

              Yeah, I have a feeling that this whole drone thing was one of the Russian bloopers of the war. But the important thing is, when you realize something is not right, or you missed something important, instead of beating yourself up, just fix it, damn it! And then move on. Once again, nothing like a war to light a fire under one’s ass. What Americans call a wake-up call.

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      • Sacha says:

        I agree with you that the intensity of war might need to re assess the needs and get drones from a friendly country. Which keeps pending the issue of the operators, and connection to the satellite system. An Israeli newspaper said that Russia had already let Iran use its glonass system who improved the capacities of Iranian strikes on Saudi Arabia. Which might explain how the now famous shahed can integrate easily if both sides worked on a common platform

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        • yalensis says:

          I personally think it’s safe to trust the Iranians. But then I am a trusting person. Mostly.

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          • Sacha says:

            I have a long time friend from Iran- signe 2009 and they don’t trust their own leadership haha I would say that yes Iranians in friendship are very loyal as individuals. And their leadership is opportunist and smart.

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  4. Gareth says:

    I read somewhere, but can’t remember the source, that these drones are being manufactured in Russia based on Iranian design and consultation. So they are not, strictly speaking, imported from Iran.

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    • Sacha says:

      Thanks. Several pro russian telegram channel tracked récent cargo flights from Téhéran as a proof it was imported. But the last source of info I would trust would be CNN leaks or ukr statements

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  5. BM says:

    People used to call Afghanistan the “Elephants Graveyard of Empires”, I wonder if they will start to call the Ukraine the Elephants Graveyard of weapons.

    Most importantly, I think they will call it the Graveyard of NATO and the Graveyard of the US Empire. But also of course graveyard of Ukrainian/US/UK/Polish soldiers.

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  6. CtH says:

    The last US “aid” package included lots of 105 shells (more than needed for the UK’s 105 field artillery donated earlier?), and I would imagine that the M55 donor will (since they are clearing out the inventory of that model of tank and converting to light armour) send all the ammunition they have too.

    Even without ammunition, a tank is better than no tank – if nothing else, it looks scary and absorbs Russian munitions.

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  7. Bob beck says:

    I think that the good sized Iranian drones stress nato ability to monitor ukie airspace. It must hard to track Russian aircraft and helicopters mixed in amongst a thousand drones. The drones will force the ukies to turn on their radars sooner than they’d like. This exposes them to Russian fire. Just a thought. I’d suspect Iranian troops are providing on the job training for there use. This use doesn’t require the close coupling Andre talks about.

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  8. William Quick says:

    As is often the case, once again I find myself confused by terminology, in this case “mobilization of reserves,” and “conscription.”

    For instance, in two recent AA posts, I find:

    “According to some reports, as many as 10,000 young people already reported to the recruiting stations within the first 24 hours after partial conscription was announced.”

    And:

    “All citizens of the Russian Federation, who are called up for mobilization,”

    And:

    “Avdonin adds that the draftees will be told, in their tickets…”

    As an American old enough to have been subject to conscription, ie “the draft” during the Vietnam War era, I undestood there was a clear line between the draft and the reserve. Indeed, many joined the various reserve formations to avoid being drafted – G.W. Bush springs notoriously to mind.

    So could some good and kind soul enlighten me as to precisely what is meant by these various terms, when applied to the blanket “partial mobilization of 300,000 men” rubric?

    Thanks so much.

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    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, William. I am hoping that same kind soul can explain it to me as well, because I don’t know the difference either, be it American or Russian military.
      (I never served in either, being a cowardly custard.)

      One thing I do know: I am reading in the Russian press how several major politicians are stating how their children are enlisting, this is obviously a sensitive topic and they want to make it clear to the public. I might do a post on this, if I can find more info.

      Liked by 1 person

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