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Strange Warhead Found in Downed Shahed-136: Not Thermobaric But Definitely New-Type

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Illustrative photo: Shahed-136 loitering munition / Photo credit: Sobhan Farajvan
Illustrative photo: Shahed-136 loitering munition / Photo credit: Sobhan Farajvan

So far, none of the russian drones were found with a thermobaric warhead but the drones marked Geran-K do carry a new type of explosive payload

Despite information circulating about thermobaric warheads found in Shahed-136 loitering munitions used by russia in aerial attacks on Ukraine, Ukrainian state services currently deny such claims.

Defense Express consulted with sappers responsible for researching and neutralizing warheads from russian long-range weapons. As of now, not a single Shahed-136, in any of its three versions, including those shot down recently, has been found to have a thermobaric warhead.

Read more: The ​Ukrainian Air Force Discovers Advanced russian Drone with 4G Modem and Kyivstar SIM Card

A widely shared photo, though, indeed reveals a new, previously unseen type of warhead for the Shahed-136. However, this one is confirmed to have a high-explosive filling, similar to those used in Shaheds marked "Geran-K." The image below provides a visual comparison of the alleged thermobaric warhead, published online the other day, and a "standard" high-explosive warhead from another downed drone.

Warheads from the downed Shahed-136 loitering munitions
Warheads from the downed Shahed-136 loitering munitions: the "thermobaric" (actually not) warhead on the left and ordinary iranian high-explosive on the right / Open source photos

This newly discovered warhead has a weight of 40 kg, a diameter of 31 cm, and contains tungsten fragmentation elements. It is currently believed that this warhead was not specially developed but was repurposed from an existing air-launched missile because it fitted well into the Shahed-136 in terms of weight and dimensions.

It's important to note that there are three informal types of Shahed-136 used by the russian federation. The original version from Iran, with an Iranian warhead weighing 48.5 kg, is marked with the "Geran-M" index. A similar warhead is installed on "Geran-Ы" drones, the only difference being that they're equipped with russian-made navigation systems.

Electronic parts found inside a Shahed-136
Electronic parts found inside a Shahed-136 / Illustrative photo credit: RFE/RL Ukraine

Now, the drones marked "Geran-K," recorded in attacks since summer 2023, are equipped with an alternative warhead, featured in the viral photo. The "Shahed-K" also differs in terms of production technology and other minor details.

High-quality photos of the 40-kg HE-FRAG warhead from the Shaheds marked "Geran-K" are provided below.

The new 40-kg HE-FRAG warhead of Shahed-136

It's crucial to recognize that the russian federation continues to develop Shahed loitering munitions, which have become its primary long-range weapons amid depleted stocks of cruise and ballistic missiles. Consequently, the appearance of even more new types of warheads on these suicide drones is likely in the future.

Earlier Defense Express reported that russian invasion forces in Ukraine started to use primitive 4G modems. Here we covered what they could be used for and how countered. Also, the russians started to paint their Shaheds in black to decrease their visibility during nighttime attacks.

Read more: ​The Armed Forces of Ukraine Shoot Down Majority of russian Drones in Nighttime Attack