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​Not by NASAMS Alone: How Ukraine's Capital Defends Against russian Drone Attacks

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​Not by NASAMS Alone: How Ukraine's Capital Defends Against russian Drone Attacks

Mobile firing groups tell how they coordinate efforts to take down drones with nothing but timely information and a heavy machine gun

With all the news of supplies and deliveries of modern air defense systems that are now showing unparalleled accuracy against kamikaze drones and cruise missiles, we can easily forget that Ukraine's air defense works with this level of effectiveness in a complex.

So when we hear, for example, that Kyib air defense takes down all 100% of air targets, we should remember that beside the modern NASAMS there are many other means and people standing behind the achievement. The Territorial Defense Forces Command of the AFU reminded of that in an interview published the other day, with Ukrainian soldiers protecting the capital on a daily basis.

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According to official information, one of the NASAMS systems provided by the U.S. is now protecting Kyiv
According to official information, at least one of the two NASAMS systems provided by the U.S. is now protecting Kyiv / Illustrative photo credit: U.S. Army

Two units interviewed in this video are protecting the skies above Kyiv from the southern direction, and hunting down iranian Shahed-131/136 drones is their specialty.

Once a drone is detected approaching, a command is issued to the unit, and they move out, says a gunner from a Voluntary Formation of a Territorial Community (DFTH) "T2 Demiivka".

"It was around 23:45-23:50 o'clock. Then around 2:20, our colleagues spotted the kamikaze drone approaching, after that we detected it with tracers and opened fire," he recalls the course of events on the night his group took down a drone. On that night of January 2nd, all 39 drones launched by russians on Ukrainian infrastructure were taken down by the air defense.

"It was just 50 meters above us, and we could see it clearly. It was flying toward an object of critical infrastructure but a dense small arms fire spoiled it aerodynamic properties, and it fell down a considerable distance from the target, so the object [of infrastructure] was intact."

He highlighted the role of servicemen from the frontlines who are the first ones to see the russian drones coming and warn the air defense command so that such units as his can deploy, prepare the weapons and intercept the threat in time.

The data on those air threats that were not intercepted by frontline air defenses is transmitted further to the second echelon / Screenshot credit: Territorial Defense Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

The other group DFTH "Mriya" that was on duty on January 29th used thermal imagers and a laser designator to spot and track the drone in the dark sky: overnight January 30th all 16 drones of Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 types were destroyed by all branches of Ukraine's air defense forces. Notably, the drones were launched along the Dnipro River in an attempt to bypass the positions of Ukrainian air defense.

Screenshot credit: Territorial Defense Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

By the way, this time their weapon is a double-mounted PM M1910 Maxim gun that originates back from the 1910s. According to the Defense Express information, Ukraine still has a considerable stock of 35,000 aging weapons made during 1920-1950. The effective firing range of this weapon is up to 3 km, and it has water cooling system which allows it to fire almost without stopping.

However, in practice, the soldiers were firing at the Shahed drones with short bursts and constant adjustment with available devices. The first one exploded, and the second one got damaged but the troops had already lost it from vision. It was confirmed destroyed later.

Even old weapons are quite effective against relatively slow low-flying Shahed-type drones
Even old weapons are quite effective against relatively slow low-flying Shahed-type drones / Screenshot credit: Territorial Defense Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Side note: units of the Voluntary Formation of a Territorial Community forces report to the Territorial Defense Forces but work on different conditions, such as they only operate in the territory where the volunteers were enlisted.

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