PDF Conducted Drone Attacks Against Targets in Myanmar Capital

Drone Attacks 

On April 4th, local People’s Defense Force (PDF) forces conducted a series of kamikaze drone attacks against the ruling Junta’s military headquarters and Aye Lar Airbase near the capital Naypyitaw. A statement released by the National Unity Government’s (NUG) Ministry of Defence confirmed that drone attacks occurred and that they “successfully hit targets and caused damages” but did not specify the number of casualties.

Map of locations of kamikaze drone attacks against Regime military targets in capital city of Naypyitaw (Photo: X/@krackhauer)

Sources indicate that members of a special unit of the PDF conducted the two attacks and safely returned to their base. The special unit allegedly trained for months to successfully conduct the attack against the capital city.

According to various sources, the attacks consisted of 16 drones attacking the military headquarters, while 13 others attacked the airbase. The government said that an unspecified air defense system allegedly shot down at least two drones targeting the airbase. Other witnesses to the airbase attack reportedly said they could see the airbase on fire “from a distance” and that the headquarters was “reportedly shut down” after the attack.

Images of crashed kamikaze drones used during PDF attack on Aye Lar Airbase (Photo: X/@TheChindwin)

However, local news outlets reported that the attack at the airbase killed at least two air force personnel and injured four personnel. Furthermore, six drones allegedly “inflicted notable damage to the runway” that caused the base to temporarily cease operations. The news outlets also said that the attack at the headquarters injured at least 11 personnel.

Analysis

The drone attacks against the airbase and military headquarters near the capital underscore how the recent offensives have degraded the Junta’s combat capabilities. The military has lost significant amounts of military equipment, vehicles, and personnel since the ethnic armies and PDFs launched various offensives in late October 2023. Furthermore, these offensives also led to the military losing a large amount of territory and various military bases and facilities. The offensives led to the ethnic armies and PDFs pushing deep into the center of the country, with some groups entering the Madwe and Mandalay regions. The degradation of combat capabilities enabled the specialized units to conduct not only the kamikaze drones but other drone attacks in Naypyidaw, Mandalay, and Yangon.

The PDF’s increased use of drone attacks likely led the military to spread their counter-drone systems to other strategically important facilities to protect them from attacks. However, this strategy likely caused the military to stretch the coverage too thin, which led to a decrease in the number of Chinese and Russian produced jamming systems being deployed at the sites. The overextension of coverage likely led to gaps in coverage regarding when these systems would operate. The gaps would appear at different times since personnel would need to shut down the systems on a regular basis to conduct maintenance and prevent them from breaking down due to overuse. While the military also employs handheld anti-drone guns to protect facilities, these systems would be considered a point defense system used as a last resort rather than a system that provides protection for a large area. There are few indicators that regime forces also employ other means, such as machine guns, air defense artillery, or increased use of camouflage, to defend against drone attacks.

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Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin Camarena
Joaquin the panda began Sino Talk in 2022 primarily to give an objective, unbiased view on China related topics as well as other issues related to the Indo-Pacific region. He spent several years studying and traveling throughout China and many countries in the Indo-Pacific region. In another life, the panda was also a U.S. Marine intelligence analyst who enjoyed bamboo MREs and drinking bourbon and soju. Indo-Pacific Division Desk Chief for Atlas News.
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