Ukraine's 1-ton payload drones can help retake Crimea as Kyiv seeks to destroy bridge: report

Ukraine has used drones, a relatively cheap weapon compared to the larger war machines Russia deploys. The latest in its drone arsenal are two sea drones that can carry up to one-ton of explosives.

Ukraine's 1-ton payload drones can help retake Crimea as Kyiv seeks to destroy bridge: report

Ukraine has started mass-producing two sea drones capable of carrying up to one ton of explosives as the military sets its sights on retaking Crimea, a crown jewel in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions for the neighboring country. 

"These are already new generations of drones, on the improvement of which the team of SBU specialists worked and continues to work together with other members of the Security and Defense Forces," Artem Dekhtiarenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s security service SBU, said in a press release. 

"This means that the SBU can reach a target almost anywhere in the Black Sea," Dekhtiarenko added. 

Ukraine has made it a mission to try and destroy the bridges connecting Russian supply chains to Crimea, which continues to serve as a major operational hub for Russia as it perpetuates its invasion, East2West News reported. Additionally, the Ukrainian Navy has made surprising and significant gains against its Russian counterpart, pushing back the Black Sea Fleet from more valuable coastal positions. 

"In the ranks of the service, we have raised unique specialists in naval drones in order to further improve and scale up the work of clearing the Black Sea from the enemy," SBU chief Vasyl Malyuk said earlier.

SBU used the drones to take out four enemy warships in Sevastopol Bay and at least half a dozen other vessels in subsequent missions, including a new Russian reconnaissance ship, Interfax-Ukraine reported. 

Ukraine has relied on the "Sea Baby" drone as its key tool to achieve these various goals: A specially developed version loaded with nearly a full ton of explosives made a run at the Crimean Bridge and caused structural damage. Despite that hit, and damage from a bomb smuggled onto the bridge in a truck, Russia has continued to use the bridge.

Now, Ukraine has made the destruction of the bridge a top priority. The use of the drones also helps another issue the Ukrainian military has struggled with over the past year: Disproportionate funding that threatens to tip the advantage towards Russia. 

The Mamai’s high speeds, mixed with the variable utility of the Sea Baby, have only increased Ukraine’s reliance on drones as the main tool of Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Dekhtiarenko noted the cost of a drone at just shy of a quarter-million dollars, which has the ability to hit and damage warships worth "tens of millions of dollars." Made of material that is invisible to radar, according to Ukrainian outlet Pravda, the drones help to even out the cost-benefit imbalance of the war. 

Ukraine also employs a "fast" kamikaze surface drone called the Cossack Mamai, which can hit 62 miles per hour, according to Ukrainian outlet EuroMaiden Press. 

SBU has touted the Mamai as "the fastest object in the Black Sea," measuring nearly 20 feet long and equipped with observational equipment and bulletproof materials. 

Ukraine’s reliance on drones extends to land and air: Kyiv has used drones to carry out direct attacks on Russian personnel, including an attempt to hit the Kremlin itself. While Kyiv did not take credit for the attack, the U.S. said that Ukrainian intelligence or special military was "likely" behind the attack.