A Russian Lancet-3 kamikaze drone struck a Ukrainian patrol boat on the Dnieper River on Monday, a video going around on social media shows. The incident occurred near Zaporizhzhia, with Russian observers claiming that Ukraine was planning a landing across the river, which was thwarted.
This is also the second such incident of a Ukrainian sea-borne vessel being hit by a Lancet loitering munition, with the first strike in November last year.
As previously reported by EurAsian Times, loitering munitions, in general, and the Lancet-3, in particular, have emerged as the leading and revolutionary weapon of the war, wreaking havoc on Ukrainian ground military equipment.
Combined with the Geranium-2 (or Geran-2) kamikaze drone, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) have had a significant strategic impact on the war, despite being small tactical weapons themselves, marking a unique phenomenon in twenty-first-century warfare.
The Iranian Shahed-136 (known as ‘Geran’ in Russian service) devastated Ukrainian air defenses by acting as decoys to bait Ukrainian fire control radars or hitting civilian-military targets like command and coordination centers or energy distribution networks.
Video – Drone Versus Boat
The video shows a Project 376 Yaroslavets patrol boat being recorded by an overhead drone, possibly an Orlan-10, sailing on the Dnieper River beside a large barge-like vessel.
It cuts to a scene where a targeting reticule is seen aimed at the boat’s bridge from the front, then gets closer, suggesting it is the feed from the Lancet-3 itself. Another video from the Orlan-10 higher up captures the Lancet striking the boat.
The boat appears to be a upgunned Project 376 Yaroslavets – similar examples were previously seen in use with the Ukrainian River Fleet. pic.twitter.com/9uCWl5oShi
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) April 17, 2023
The boat, however, continues to move and then, in the concluding part of the video, is seen near a sandy coast, suggesting the crew has evacuated itself. The fire on the vessel is then seen getting intense, which means the Lancet-3 hit some ammunition in the front, causing a secondary explosion and fires.
Ukraine Wants To Go Across The Dnieper River?
According to some reports, Russian intelligence has discovered a base of Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) combat boats and attack craft in the Zaporizhzhia region. They patrol the Dnieper and are preparing for a landing operation to take Energodar, some Russian defense experts believe.
But the experience from last year’s Kharkiv withdrawal suggests that Ukraine might also be creating a diversion by continuing to target one area and then strike the other. The incident was one of the very few tactical successes of the Ukrainian army.
However, based on a cursory glance of official publicity material and videos released by the Russian Ministry of Defense (RuMoD) and media from Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels, the deployment, from the northeast to the far south of Ukraine, seems to be fairly decentralized.
With Putin making a surprise visit to Kherson, Russian forces will be vigilant and avoid embarrassing themselves by sustaining a surprise Ukrainian counter-offensive. Moreover, a fresh influx of weapons and drones from the West acts as a morale booster and a slight tactical heft, and given the mood in the Ukrainian leadership, they will keep resisting the Russian onslaught.
Another view is that Ukraine’s attention remains on the strategic town of Bakhmut, from which there have been some reported withdrawals in the face of the Russian advance.
“However, minor attacks on other areas of the entire front will continue since they can’t leave it unprotected and allow Russia to walk in and claim the little remaining areas in the east and the south unopposed. But so far, Bakhmut seems to be the prime Ukrainian interest,” said one comment on a leading Russian Telegram group.
The Drone & The Boats
The boat, meanwhile, called Project 376 Yaroslavets, is used extensively by Ukraine. “Similar examples were seen previously in use by the Ukrainian River Fleet,” said a Tweet by Ukraine Weapons Tracker.
The Lancet-3 loitering munition, too, has undergone upgrades in the course of the war. RIA Novosti reported a modernized version with a new electro-optical system and improved software that enhanced flight control.
“It also received a more powerful warhead, which makes it possible to reliably hit howitzers, tanks, armored vehicles, radars, air defense systems, and enemy manpower,” the report added. The drone now comes with three types of warheads – cumulative, high explosive fragmentation, and thermostatic.
In the November incident, a Lancet-3 had struck and nearly completely destroyed a Gyurza-M (Project 58155) while it was sailing in the Black Sea port of Ochakiv.