Experts assessed the threat from the Turkish “Bayraktars” in the Donbass

“Full-fledged combat use is far away”

In recent days, representatives of the people's militia of the LPR have recorded that Ukrainian troops are increasingly using Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles Bayraktar TV-2 TB2 for reconnaissance. Drones, which inflicted heavy losses on Armenian troops in the Karabakh war of 2020, are getting closer to the line of contact in Donbas.

Photo: Still from video

"MK", after talking with experts, found out how dangerous the presence of Bayraktar TV-2 near the borders of the DPR and DPR is for the defenders of the unrecognized republics.

< p>Ukraine bought Bayraktar TV-2 devices from Turkey after the war in Karabakh. Then there was a huge number of videos on the Web of their successful use for the destruction of Armenian tanks, guns, air defense systems. Turkish drones were credited with almost a decisive role in Azerbaijan's victory in that war.

Ukraine not only purchased Bayraktar TV-2, but also signed an agreement to establish a training and testing center for drone maintenance in Kiev. Kiev also agreed with Ankara on the licensed production of Bayraktars, considering them as an alternative to real combat aviation, which in fact does not exist in Ukraine: the Air Force is represented exclusively by Soviet-made — MiG-29, Su-25, Su-27.

So what to expect from Bayraktars? in the Donbass? Does their appearance threaten the militias with big losses?

According to the former head of the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Special Forces Command (Moscow Air Defense District), retired colonel Sergei Khatylev, it will not be possible to use attack drones in the Donbass as successfully as in Karabakh. If only simply because Karabakh – mostly mountainous area. There Bayraktar TV-2 was easy to hide from radar using the terrain, which was what their operators did. 

Donbass – almost continuous plain. Fly over it as freely as in the mountains, 650-kilogram “Bayraktars” will not be able to: they are easy to detect at a great distance.

In addition, Sergei Khatylev emphasizes, Turkish Bayraktar TV-2 – these are still low-speed targets, with piston rather than jet engines. According to Khatylev, Bayraktar TV-2 can be shot down with such means as anti-aircraft machine guns. They have a double barrel and are capable of delivering heavy fire.

According to Khatylev, if a serious mess begins in the Donbass with the massive use of drones, which, by the way, are prohibited by the Minsk agreements, then the DPR and LPR will very soon have our Pantsir-S air defense systems. together with the Russian “travel” and vacationers, as well as electronic warfare (EW) systems, after which most expensive drones will quickly be on the ground.

By the way, the high price of “Bayraktarov” – one of the limiting factors of their massive use in the Donbass. It is believed that one complex with several drones costs more than $10 million. According to some reports, during the war in Karabakh, the Armenians, with their not very great capabilities, shot down about ten attack drones. Even for prosperous Azerbaijan, this is a rather large financial loss. But Baku can afford to buy new ones, but Kiev – unlikely.

Initially, it was reported that 12 Bayraktars were purchased for the Ukrainian army in Turkey. Then Bloomberg reported 20 complexes. The loss of even a few pieces can undermine the Ukrainian unmanned aircraft.

In turn, the leading Russian military expert, editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland magazine Victor Murakhovsky also named other weak points of the Bayraktarov, especially when operating against the army of a high-tech enemy with advanced electronic warfare. According to him, if videos from a drone are published, it means that such a device has a so-called “thick” one. the communication channel with the control point, through which the picture is transmitted online. This video stream over the communication channel, the expert notes, is easily opened by our modern intelligence tools. After that, a blow to the control center immediately arrives. “I emphasize: not on the drone, but precisely on its control point,” – noted the expert. So all those videos that are circulating on the Web, causing genuine delight among amateur connoisseurs, – this is all the work of Bayraktar TV-2 “in greenhouse conditions.” 

In Ukraine, the Turkish “Bayraktaram” had to face another unforeseen problem – the terrible state of the runways. The lanes from which they could take off, – one or two and screwed up. Almost all airfields turned out to be unsuitable for vehicles of this type. The concrete strips are dilapidated and cannot provide a soft landing for the drone.  Ukrainian media write that experts complain: after three or four takeoffs and landings on Turkish miracle drones, they have to change the chassis. And this is – expensive components, extra money and time. 

The command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine before buying “weapons of victory” no one said that huge funds were previously invested in the reconstruction of the Azerbaijani Dallyar and Ganja airfields, from where the Bayraktar TV-2 took off during the Karabakh war.

According to experts, out of 24 airfields in Ukraine that could to accept heavy “Bayraktars”, only three can be considered partially suitable: Gavrishovka in the Vinnitsa region, Boryspil near Kiev and the airfield of Kramatorsk. The first two are too far from Donbass.

Direct control zone “Bayraktar” – about 150 km. There are no modifications in Ukraine that expand the range of the devices due to the satellite control system. That is why the Ukrainian Bayraktar TV-2s are now flying for reconnaissance to the demarcation zone in Donetsk, mainly from Kramatorsk. According to our military, if it comes to a serious armed confrontation, then it will not be difficult to destroy the only airfield suitable for Bayraktar TV-2. 

Hundreds of millions of dollars are needed to modernize the airfield runways. There is no money for this in the budget of Ukraine, sponsors are also unlikely to fork out.

Hence the conclusion: Ukraine will not be able to actively use its Bayraktar TV-2 in the Donbas in the near future. Their massive losses would be too obvious anti-advertising, unprofitable primarily for Turkey, which made these devices almost the hallmark of its military-industrial complex.

Even the Ukrainian military realized that, having bought Turkish “weapons of victory”, fell for a well-hyped publicity stunt. True, not everyone is worried about this. Those generals of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and politicians who promoted this deal feel very good – after all, no one has abolished such a thing as “rollback” in Ukraine. Moreover, they are looking to the future, and next year they are going to buy even more expensive Akinci drones. The price of one complex with several heavy unmanned vehicles – under $100 million. Approximately the same as the cost of a full-fledged NATO combat fighter. The fact that these expensive toys have nowhere to take off seems to stop no one when it comes to personal gain.


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