Ukraine Used Sea Drones With Jet Skis to Take Out Russia Ship: Report

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A Ukrainian special military unit has described how it reportedly sunk one of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet ships last week using six sea drones powered by Jet Skis, or civilian personal watercraft.

Russia is yet to comment on the spectacular video shared by Defense Intelligence of Ukraine on February 1, purporting to show the drones-eye-view of the attack on the corvette Ivanovets, which ended with footage of the ship sliding stern-first under the water.

There has been no independent confirmation of the sinking, but pro-Russian, as well as Western, observers have taken the footage as relatively robust evidence.

Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, told the military news outlet The War Zone that the ship was struck by six home-developed Maritime Autonomous Guard Unmanned Robotic Apparatuses, known as MAGURA V5 naval drones.

The MAGURA 5 is a multi-purpose, 18-foot-long maritime drone with a hydrodynamic profile and a range of around 500 miles, according to specifications shared at a 2023 arms fair.

A still from a video shared by Defense Intelligence of Ukraine on Thursday February 1 2024. the black and white reversed image shows a ship silhouetted on the water, which Ukraine says is a drone's eye view ahead of the ship's destructon.

A still from a video shared by Defense Intelligence of Ukraine on February 1, 2024, purportedly of the corvette Ivanovets ahead of its claimed destruction.

Defense Intelligence of Ukraine/YouTube



According to The War Zone, the drones were the same model used to take out two Russian landing craft in western Crimea in November.

Speaking to CNN, one of the drone pilots, identified by the call sign “13,” said that the drones were powered by Jet Skis and controlled via a Starlink connection.

The drone can be pre-programmed for most of its journey, but monitored by a pilot, who takes control for the final approach, he said.

“The main thing is to feel the drone,” he said, adding: “If you squeeze it a little, you can lose control of the drone. I would say it’s like jeweler’s work.”

With their low profile, the drones can be difficult to spot against the water, although the video footage appears to show the Ivanovets firing into the water in an attempt to take them out.

In total, 10 MAGURA V5s were sent on the mission, with six hitting the ship, the pilot told CNN.

The Ivanovets was likely used as a patrol ship, tasked with warding off saboteurs attempting to land in Crimea or — ironically — to see off naval drones targeting larger, more valuable prizes, Sidharth Kaushal, a naval expert at the UK’s Royal United Services Institute, told Business Insider.

The claimed destruction of the vessel has been viewed by analysts as part of the ongoing weakening of Russia’s control over the Black Sea.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet operations have been “greatly complicated, if not paralyzed” due to months of attacks, Ukrainian naval captain Dmytro Pletenchuk told broadcasters on Sunday, the Kyiv Post reported.

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