Inspired by Oryxspioenkop, I wanted to make an ongoing list documenting the use of loitering munitions, also known as suicide drones, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I will be relying on visually confirmed uses, whether it be through video or photos, to document these instances.
Before getting into the list, some of you may be asking “what are loitering munitions?” These weapons are essentially explosive laden drones that can passively loiter around a target, waiting for the most opportune moment to strike, or be used in a direct attack method, either by remote control or autonomous means. Loitering munitions are something I have covered greatly on my page since the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, which showcased their effectiveness during conventional warfare to the world.
Now onto the list:
March 12: Russian Zala KUB-BLA used in Podil, Kyiv, marking first recorded loitering munition use in the conflict. Ukrainian forces claimed to have intercepted the drone before it could reach its target and detonate.
March 14: Russian Zala KUB-BLA used in an unspecified area of Kyiv Oblast. Unclear if the drone was intercepted or crashed on its own, however, it is clear that the drone did not detonate as intended.
March 20: Russian Zala KUB-BLA used at an unknown location in Ukraine. Unclear if the drone was intercepted or crashed on its own, however, it is clear that the drone did not detonate as intended.
March 22: Russian Zala KUB-BLA used in an unspecified area of Kyiv Oblast. Again, it is unclear if the drone was intercepted or crashed on its own. This appears to be the fourth Zala KUB-BLA to not detonate as intended.
April 9: Ukraine’s Border Service reported that at least two Russian Zala KUB-BLAs were used to attack one of their positions in Luhansk. They stated that one of the drones was shot down by small arms fire, indicating that another successfully detonated. There were no reports of casualties from the strike. This marks the first visually confirmed Zala KUB-BLA strike were the drone detonated as intended.
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— AB (@SergyGus) April 19, 2022
April 19: Two Russian Zala KUB-BLAs destroyed in an unspecified area of Ukraine. Does not appear to be a successful detonation of either drone.
April 27: Zala KUB-BLA downed by Ukrainian forces somewhere in Luhansk. Does not appear to be a successful detonation.
#Ukraine: Few hours ago two Ukrainian Polish-made WARMATE loitering munitions armed with high-explosive warheads were shot down by the Russian forces in Enerhodar, #Zaporizhzhia Oblast. pic.twitter.com/l7MCOYhh8Z
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) April 27, 2022
April 27: First reported and visually confirmed use of loitering munitions by Ukrainian forces during the conflict. Two Polish-made WARMATE loitering munitions were intercepted over the Russian controlled city of Enerhodar, which is home to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 6, 2022
May 6: First recorded instance of an American-supplied Switchblade 300 targeting a Russian position, reportedly in Kharkiv Oblast. As seen, the drone was able to detonate as intended, but appears to have missed a direct hit.
May 6: Photo of the remains of a Switchblade 300, which appears to have properly detonated. It is unclear if this photo is related to the footage above.
— Arslon Xudosi ?? (@Arslon_Xudosi) May 8, 2022
May 8: Ukrainian forces were able to intercept a Russian Zala KUB-BLA, location unknown. Unclear if the drone was hit by small arms fire or taken down with a jamming device. The drone was not able to detonate as intended.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 18, 2022
May 18: Footage showing a Russian Zala KUB-BLA strike targeting Ukrainian M777 Howitzer teams in Pidhirne, Donetsk. The ZALA KUB missed the howitzers and the proximity of its blast to the artillery pieces likely caused little to no damage to them. The blast and shrapnel could have wounded crew members, but it’s unknown.
#Ukraine: Ukrainian SSO (SOF) published rare footage of a kamikaze drone in action, which we identied as a US-supplied Switchblade 300 – hitting a Russian T-72B3 tank with its crew on top.
The tank is unlikely to receive any serious damage, which cannot be said about the crew. pic.twitter.com/sRm5GQNRyL
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 24, 2022
May 24: Footage from Ukrainian SSO showing a successful Switchblade 300 strike on a Russian T-72 with infantry seen outside the tank. The Switchblade 300 is designed for anti-personnel and light vehicle targets, so the strike likely had little to no effect on the tank, however, it likely resulted in casualties to the soldiers outside of the tank.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 25, 2022
May 25: Footage showing a successful Russian Zala KUB-BLA targeting Ukrainian infantry in Pavlivka, Donetsk, resulting in casualties. To me, this is the first footage successfully showing the system’s anti-personnel capabilities. Note that the soldiers did not appear to notice the drone at all until the strike.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 25, 2022
May 25: Footage showing the deployment of a Switchblade 300 from its launch tube by Pro-Ukrainian Chechen fighters (note the Republic of Ichkeria patch). Footage does not show target or impact.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) May 26, 2022
May 26: Footage showing two Russian Zala KUB-BLA strikes on unknown Ukrainian targets in Kharkiv Oblast. The drones appear to have reached their targets and detonated as intended, but the extent of the damage on targets is unknown.
— Paul Jawin (@PaulJawin) May 27, 2022
May 27: Remains of a Switchblade 300, location unknown. Due to the state of the drone, it appears to have detonated properly, however, the target and how much damaged it caused is unknown.
#Ukraine: New Fairy Tales from Russian media- they report that "American Phoenix Ghost UAV was shot down from a Kalashnikov near Izium" showing these images.
However here we obviously see a rear half of a Switchblade 300 loitering munition which is usually left after detonation. pic.twitter.com/bAFBQk1FX5
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 29, 2022
May 29: Another photo of a Switchblade 300, claimed to have been shot down near Izyum. It is unclear if it was shot down or if it detonated as the rear half typically remains intact after a strike.
Ukrainian 25th Airborne Brigade downed a Russian ZALA KYB loitering munition pic.twitter.com/sObozovr4O
— OSINTtechnical (@Osinttechnical) May 29, 2022
May 29: Intercepted Russian Zala KUB-BLA, location unknown. This one did not detonate as intended.
???The launch of the American Switchblade 300 loitering munition by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the vicinity of Kharkov. pic.twitter.com/a91zEtw90N
— Prateek? (@PrateekRoutray) June 3, 2022
June 3: Footage showing the deployment of a Switchblade 300 from its launch tube. Footage does not show target or impact.
This war is kinda proving that kamikaze drones are gimmicks. https://t.co/6dE8g1JkYE
— Dr.Snekotron (@snekotron) June 7, 2022
June 7: Footage showing an intercepted Polish-made WARMATE loitering munition, along with a Punisher strike UAV, reportedly in the Kharkiv Oblast.
Undated: Video first posted to Telegram channel Milinfolive purportedly showing two showing two Russian loitering munition strikes in an unknown part of Ukraine, one against an unidentified Ukrainian target and the other against a Ukrainian T-72 tank. The video quality is too low to confirm whether or not these are in fact loitering munitions as claimed and if they are, which model. The first clip appears to be a Zala KUB-BLA, but like I said its hard to know for sure.
Russian MoD video apparently showing a loitering munition strike on a Ukrainian position at the Azovstal factory in Mariupol. Doesn’t look like it hit anything. https://t.co/RfnL6poz8h pic.twitter.com/rOsVtJi4OU
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) April 2, 2022
April 2: State-media outlet RIA posts Russian Ministry of Defense video showing “high precision weapons” being used against the Azovstal iron and steel works in Mariupol city. While the weapon used was not specified, it appears to be a Zala KUB-BLA loitering munition.
— ?? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) May 15, 2022
May 15: As per the tweet, it is unclear if this is Zala KUB-BLA or a Eleron-3 (ISR UAV), but it shows the drone falling out of the sky. It is unclear if this was due to jamming or a mechanical issue.