As Ukraine prepares for a second winter in which drones and assault missiles will bombard its critical infrastructure, it hopes its air defense teams, bolstered with new Western systems, can prevent the country from being plunged into darkness.
The threat of Russian attacks on Ukraine’s power grid is now even more acutesince Moscow has established its own facilities to manufacture assault drones based on the Iranian Shahed-136.
Nearly half of Ukraine’s energy system was damaged by Russian strikes last winter, when Moscow fired hundreds of Shahed drones along with faster and heavier cruise missiles to attack power plants and transformers.
kyiv hopes to counter the renewed threat with a reinforced line of air defenses, including German-made Gepard anti-aircraft guns. recently donated: a sleek green turret mounted on the chassis of a main battle tank.
Serhiy Naievone of Ukraine’s highest-ranking generals, told Reuters that the military was preparing for another winter of Russian attacks on key infrastructure.
“We understand that the enemy has not given up its criminal intentions to attack critical infrastructure facilities, damaging Ukraine and its economy. We are taking the necessary measures to cover it (critical infrastructure) and strengthen the air defense system,” Naiev said.
“We understand that there are Kinzhals and other more powerful missiles. Against them we use the Patriot and NASAMS systems. Regarding the Gepard anti-aircraft gun; It uses normal artillery shells, so the price of such shells is less than the price of a Shahed (drone).” he added.
Naiev declined to mention the number of systems involved in such a vast defense effort, but said Ukraine’s air defense arsenal had been bolstered by the supply of new equipment from Ukraine’s allies.
Last winter, Ukraine was occasionally forced to shoot down Shaheds, estimated to cost around $30,000 each, with Western-supplied air defense missiles worth dozens of times as much.
This was done to prevent drones from damaging even more expensive infrastructure facilities.
Naiev said that one of Gepard’s anti-aircraft rounds cost less than $1,000 and represented a cost-effective solution to taking down Shaheds.
Each Gepard radar has an effective radius of 12 kilometers (7.46 miles), meaning Ukraine does not have enough to cover its vast territory. Naiev said large-caliber machine guns such as the US-made M2 Browning are being deployed to fill the gaps.
“These types of anti-aircraft weapons are necessary, the more the better. There is a 12 kilometer radius around each cannon where the enemy target can be detected. In the middle, we put other mobile fire teams armed with large-caliber machine guns,” Naiev said.
“In particular, the ZU is a 23-millimeter gun, others are armed with brownings or other Soviet or foreign-made machine guns. We are doing everything possible to strengthen the effectiveness of the air defense system, ”he added.
(With information from Reuters)