Switchblade, Kamikaze drones…they’re V1 Buzz Bombs, folks!

Recently photos surfaced on social media of a roughly four-foot-wide tan, airplane-shaped drone that had fallen out of the sky in the Kyiv region, crashing into the sandy ground.

While that one failed to explode on impact, the images verified by The Washington Post provide some of the first evidence Russia is using a new and terrifying weapon in its war against Ukraine: a killer drone that can dive bomb into targets, destroying them with little notice.

The Russian kamikaze drones, also known as loitering munitions, will soon be joined on the battlefield by ones sent to Ukrainian forces by the United States, making the war the largest direct conflict between two countries in which they’ve been deployed on both sides. Researchers who specialize in the field say it shows that these drones are becoming the norm in modern warfare, and are likely to make the conflict more deadly and unpredictable.

The American version is called Switchblade. Essentially, a 21st Century version of the V1.


Bradley Bowman, a senior director at the hawkish think tank Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, said loitering munitions reduce the time it takes to identify, locate and kill a target, and they are hard for an enemy to detect, giving off little heat signature.

“In urban combat,” he said, “where the distances are short and you’re up close and personal with your adversary, closing that kill chain more quickly can be the difference between life and death.”

Please, guys. I know you’re writing these press releases for the ignorant. Press as well as civilian readers. It still makes sense to provide real info about the history of weaponry so folks who are interested get the story straight.

16 thoughts on “Switchblade, Kamikaze drones…they’re V1 Buzz Bombs, folks!

  1. Pedant says:

    V-1 guidance system https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-1_flying_bomb#Guidance_system
    See also “How to knock a V1 off course” https://qph.cf2.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-360311e65ebc748e66bff3ade2d80de4-lq and the remotely controlled anti-ship missiles used against allied shipping in 1943 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_German_guided_weapons_of_World_War_II#Anti-ship_missiles

    “Switchblades (300 & 600) contain cameras, and video from these sensors, as well as GPS information and image processing, is used to guide the Switchblade. The Switchblade is also designed to receive targeting information from other drones, allowing it to follow and find selected targets. That makes it one weapon among many that can be directed against a target with the targeting information provided by other drones.” https://taskandpurpose.com/analysis/switchblade-attack-drone-ukraine/

    “Loitering munitions preview the autonomous future of warfare” https://www.brookings.edu/techstream/loitering-munitions-preview-the-autonomous-future-of-warfare/

  2. Heroiam slava! says:

    “One week into its invasion of Ukraine, Russia massed a 40-mile mechanized column in order to mount an overwhelming attack on Kyiv from the north.
    But the convoy of armored vehicles and supply trucks ground to a halt within days, and the offensive failed, in significant part because of a series of night ambushes carried out by a team of 30 Ukrainian special forces and drone operators on quad bikes, according to a Ukrainian commander.
    The drone operators were drawn from an air reconnaissance unit, Aerorozvidka, which began eight years ago as a group of volunteer IT specialists and hobbyists designing their own machines and has evolved into an essential element in Ukraine’s successful David-and-Goliath resistance.
    …The Russians can latch on to the drone’s electronic signature and quickly strike with mortars, so the Aerorozvidka teams have to launch and run.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/28/the-drone-operators-who-halted-the-russian-armoured-vehicles-heading-for-kyiv

  3. Hubertus Bigend says:

    “The Turkish Drone That Changed the Nature of Warfare : The Bayraktar TB2 has brought precision air-strike capabilities to Ukraine and other countries. It’s also a diplomatic tool, enabling Turkey’s rise.” (The New Yorker May 16 2022 issue) https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/05/16/the-turkish-drone-that-changed-the-nature-of-warfare
    “The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.” William Gibson (The Economist, December 4, 2003)

  4. SITREP says:

    Ukraine’s air defense units shot down nine out of 12 kamikaze drones during Russia’s massive morning strike on multiple targets across the country.
    That’s according to Yuriy Ihnat, the spokesman for the Air Force Command, who spoke at the national telethon, Ukrinform reports.
    “Nine of the twelve ‘Shaheds’ were shot down by air defense forces. These are kamikaze drones, which the enemy also actively employs now,” Ihnat noted. https://www.ukrinform.net/rubric-ato/3589955-air-defense-downs-nine-of-12-russian-kamikaze-drones-launched-monday-morning.html
    Russia swarming Ukraine with Iranian Shahed-136 Kamikaze Drones https://mezha.media/en/2022/10/05/shahed-136-a-nasty-enemy-uav-that-terrorizes-ukrainians/
    The Iranian drones use a very loud 50 hp Chinese MD550 engine, which is a copy of the German Limbach L550E, which in turn is based on the Volkswagen Boxer, manufactured from 1936 to 2006 and installed on the legendary “Beetles”.

    • Guernica says:

      “Russia has threatened that it will reassess cooperation with the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, if he sends United Nations experts to Ukraine to inspect drones that western powers say were made in Iran and used by Moscow in violation of a UN resolution.
      Speaking after a closed-door UN security council meeting on Moscow’s use of drones, Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Dmitry Polyanskiy, called on Guterres and his staff to “abstain from engaging in any illegitimate investigation”.
      Polyanskiy insisted the precision weapons had been made in Russia and condemned “baseless accusations and conspiracy theories”.
      But Ben Wallace, the UK defense secretary, said Moscow’s reliance on Iranian drones showed the strategic degradation of Russian weaponry, and urged the Iranian government to recognize it should not want to be associated with Russia’s indiscriminate killing of women and children.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/oct/20/russia-threatens-to-reassess-collaboration-with-un-over-drone-inspection-ukraine

    • Siege says:

      In little more than a week, Russian forces have destroyed a third of Ukraine’s power stations in repeated attacks targeting the war-torn nation’s energy infrastructure, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

  5. Realpolitik says:

    The Ukrainian government sent Israel on Tuesday an official request for air defense systems that will allow it to counter any Iranian ballistic missiles and Iranian attack drones used by Russia in Ukraine, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Axios [link].
    The letter stressed that the Ukrainian request is based on the consideration that “positive experience gained by Iran of using its weapon systems in Ukraine will lead to further improvement of Iranian systems.”
    This “will significantly contribute in strengthening Iran’s potential of producing offensive weapons and as a result, increase the security threats for Israel and the Middle East,” the letter said. “The Ukrainian side expects a positive reaction from Israel to this proposal.”
    Israel has given Ukraine humanitarian aid and helmets and bulletproof vests for medical teams, but it has so far refrained from providing advanced weaponry and defensive weapon systems to Ukraine, fearing a clash with Russia that could harm Israel’s security interests in Syria.
    Russia holds enormous influence in Syria but allows Israel to operate freely against Iranian activity there.” https://www.axios.com/2022/10/19/ukraine-requests-israel-iron-dome-defense-iran-russia-war

  6. STREP says:

    Despite accusations and evidence presented by Western governments and intelligence agencies, Moscow and Tehran have denied the use of Iranian-made suicide drones in Ukraine — which have emerged recently as a weapon of choice by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.
    Russian troops have ramped up attacks on Ukrainian cities far from the battlefield in recent weeks using these explosive suicide drones — identified as the Shahed-136 model — in a deadly Blitz-style terror campaign across the country. In addition to the Shahed-136, Russian forces have also deployed Iranian-made Shahed-129, Shahed-191, and Qods Mohajer-6 drones.
    Iranian military personnel are “on the ground” in Ukraine, assisting the Russian military with drone operations that have been terrorizing the country and targeting power facilities, the Pentagon said Thursday.
    John Kirby, the communications coordinator at the National Security Council, also said the presence of Iranian personnel was evidence of Tehran’s direct engagement in the conflict.
    Meanwhile: A Russian defense advisor was caught on a hot mic saying ‘we all know the drones are Iranian’ but the Kremlin doesn’t want to admit it https://www.businessinsider.com/russian-defense-advisor-caught-admitting-russia-iranian-suicide-drones-ukraine-2022-10

  7. Automata says:

    Firefighters work after Russia attacked Ukraine’s capital with Iranian-made drones during the morning rush hour on Oct. 17, 2022.
    Among the dead pulled from the wreckage of a residential building were a young couple, including a woman who was six months pregnant (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna) click to enlarge

  8. Santayana says:

    “3 ways of looking at Putin’s barbaric escalation against Ukrainian civilians : why Russia took this step from three different levels of analysis: the international, the domestic, and the psychological.” https://www.vox.com/world/2022/10/15/23404708/putin-russia-missile-attack-ukraine-civilians
    “This is a great power conflict, the third great power conflict in the European space in a little over a century. It’s the end of the existing world order. Our world is not going to be the same as it was before.” Fiona Hill https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2022/10/17/fiona-hill-putin-war-00061894

  9. Update says:

    Russia wants ‘hundreds’ of ballistic missiles from Iran and is offering ‘unprecedented’ military support in return, UK envoy says
    “Russia is now attempting to obtain more weapons, including hundreds of ballistic missiles. In return, Russia is offering Iran an unprecedented level of military and technical support,” Barbara Woodward, the UK’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told reporters after a Security Council meeting.
    For months, Russian forces have used Iranian-made suicide drones to terrorize Ukrainians.

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