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"Defending the sky": Border Guard posts footage of downing of Shahed drones

Wednesday, 21 February 2024, 11:33
Defending the sky: Border Guard posts footage of downing of Shahed drones
Photo: Olena Bartienieva/Getty Images

For the second year in a row, Ukraine has been facing Iranian Shahed drones in Russian attacks. Defence forces have established mobile fire groups to counter this threat more effectively. The State Border Guard Service has shared insight and posted footage of them intercepting drones in the southern part of the country.

Source: State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

Today, mobile fire groups are operating throughout the country. Their main task is the destruction of kamikaze drones. Border guards make up a significant portion of personnel in these groups.

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Quote: "At first, from the forward positions, we hear about its (Shahed's) passage – by sound, by air. Then we observe how the other groups operate, and move based on that. We are mobile thanks to the pickup truck. The machine gunner stays in the truck bed, while the rest move around and engage in the hunt," Bohdan, a machine gunner, describes the process of shooting down a drone.

Bohdan mentions that Shahed drones are shot down with bullets of at least 12-mm calibre. Other ammunition is less effective in this case. The main task is to damage the fuel, engine, or "brain" – its operating system. Otherwise, the drone may still reach its target even if it is full of holes.

A border guard with the alias Zamok ("Lock") explains that the most challenging part is finding the drone. This is done using a searchlight. It can illuminate up to a kilometre.

"If the weather is good, there is a small difference between the sound from the Shahed drone and the actual flyby. When the weather is windy, it can fly far, and it may sound like it’s behind already. It's essential to find it quickly," shares Zamok.

The commander of the unit, Oleh, explains that the mushroom-shaped cloud visible after the explosion is the detonation of the explosive part of the Shahed. The drone itself disintegrates into small pieces at that moment.

"Once, the drone flew very fast – about 10 seconds. We had already shot it with the last rounds, turned around – and there, behind us, was a fire mushroom about 50 metres in radius," recalls Oleh. If there are parts of the Shahed that can be studied, they are handed over to competent authorities. The rest is collected to confirm the downing – those with the onboard number and series.

Machine gunner Kostiantyn says that the biggest motivation in this work is knowing that his family and other families are safe.

"That sort of thing motivates you. If you down the drone, someone's family can sleep peacefully – no air-raid warnings, no running to the basement. Because we are defending the sky," he emphasises.

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