​Meet the Ninja: Name of Ukraine's Largest-Reaching Drone of 1,500 km Revealed

​Meet the Ninja: Name of Ukraine's Largest-Reaching Drone of 1,500 km Revealed

It was this drone that traveled the record-breaking distance to attack the Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat oil refinery in Bashkiria

One of the most famous long-range kamikaze drones in Ukraine's arsenal is the Liutyi which is actively used for attacks on oil refineries within the russian federation. Dedicated to the history of this drone is the recent article by Ukrainska Pravda. However, besides Liutyi, there are other drones famed for strikes on russian military bases and infrastructure.

For example, drones with an attack range of 800 km, namely, the Bober UAV developed thanks to the crowdfunded Black Box project and known for its strikes on Moscow City, or the Morok operated by the Security Service of Ukraine. But the most capable of these developments responsible for the record-breaking 1,400+ km strike has been shrouded in mystery. That is, until now.

Read more: ​Ukraine's Drones Reach 1,400 km: Strike on Oil Refinery in Bashkiria

The said article only mentions its name and operational range, though:

"There are also other UAVs such as Ninja, which recently set a record for the range — 1,500 kilometers to the Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat plant, there is the Bober, there is the Brama based on the A-22 aircraft, and other developments. However, in terms of the price/quality/range/accuracy ratio, Liutyi still holds a confident leadership," notes the author of the article.

Based on the name alone, it's quite difficult to guess what kind of drone this Ninja might be. The video showing the attack on the oil refinery in Bashkiria features a UAV that looks more like a small civil aviation aircraft rather than conventional drone. At the same time, that's not the A-22 which is listed as part of a separate project and obviously points to a drone made of the A-22 Foxbat ultralight aircraft from the Ukrainian Aeroprakt company.

One possible option is that it's based on the Skyranger Nynja, another single-engine ultralight aircraft that can be acquired as a Do-It-Yourself kit.

Skyranger Nynja / Defense Express / Meet the Ninja: Name of Ukraine's Largest-Reaching Drone of 1,500 km Revealed
Skyranger Nynja / Open-source illustrative photo

Defense Express notes that one of the drones based on the Skyranger aircraft family has already been seen in use by the Ukrainian Defense Forces. In late April 2024, russian sources published a photo depicting such a drone after it fell into the field, it was equipped with an OFAB-100-120 aerial bomb. But despite some sources having identified it as Skyranger Nynja, it actually was a very similar aircraft of the same series, the Skyranger Swift.

Skyranger Swift / Defense Express / Meet the Ninja: Name of Ukraine's Largest-Reaching Drone of 1,500 km Revealed
Skyranger Swift / Open-source illustrative photo

Although the difference between the aircraft used as aerial vehicles for explosives is minimal, we must take note that the Swift-based drone was, most likely, a reusable bomber drone, similar to the U-2 actively used during World War II. Meanwhile, the drone that attacked Gazprom Neftekhim Salavat did not carry any bombs under its belly, as evidenced by the footage filmed by the locals. Apparently, the Ninja was from the get-go supposed to make a single-in-a-lifetime flight and thus carried explosives inside the hull.

Still, a possibility that the Skyranger Nynja and our Ninja may still be different drones, cannot be ruled out just yet. After all, the declared operational range of Nynja is less than 700 km. Effectively multiplying the flight range would require an impressive amount of work on the part of Ukrainian engineers.

Read more: ​Ukraine Steadily Building Up Its Arsenal of Domestic UAVs, Missiles for Strikes Against russia