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Russia Is Pouring Loitering Munitions Into Ukraine

October 24, 2022
On September 22 the official media channel for Ukraine’s armed forces published its regular update on aerial kills. For the first time four Geran-2 or “Shahed-136” loitering munitions are counted.

The war reached its turning point in September when the operational momentum swung back to the Ukrainian military’s (AFU) favor. Having pushed Russian forces out of Kharkiv Oblast and crossed the Oskil River a new weapon was introduced against them on a large-scale: a delta wing loitering munition with a 100 pound high explosive warhead more powerful than the defective KUB-BLA. This turned out to be the “Geranium” that Ukraine’s military identified as Iranian Shahed-131 and Shahed-136 loitering munitions acquired during the summer and are now assembled in Russia as the Geran-1 and Geran-2.

Since mid-September the tempo of the Geran airstrikes picked up and Kyiv even retaliated against Tehran by revoking its ambassador’s credentials. By the last week of the month the armed forces’ official media channel AFU-Stratcom began logging Russian aircraft it shot down, especially the “Shahed-136,” through daily graphics. (See sample above.) However, the schedule for this effort is intermittent at best even as the frequency of airstrikes increased.

Ukrainian perceptions of kamikaze drones tend to be dismissive but the physical and psychological harm caused by the Geraniums can’t be understated. By October 10 a wave of several dozen cruise missiles launched from air and sea began to wreck Ukraine’s power grid and this onslaught was followed by Geran-1/2 “swarms.” Their common targets are the cities of Mykolaiv and Odesa (both are less than 300 kilometers away from Crimea) but the capital Kyiv suffered as well when multiple Geran-2’s struck residential buildings for the first time on October 17. A week prior, on October 11, it was revealed 30% of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was damaged and this has only grown as attacks continued. As of today Ukraine’s electricity supply is still diminishing with power and heat being rationed.

By October 19 the Ukrainian General staff decided to report 223 Shahed-136 “kills” in total but Pres. Zelensky misreported it as 233. Via Ukrinform.

Since October 10 assistance from NATO has sped up and at least two German-made Iris-T SLM medium-range SAMs (out of four promised) are helping protect Kyiv. Spain committed to send MIM-23 Hawk SAMs and the US is expediting deliveries of eight NASAMS batteries and their ancillary equipment. France is also arranging the delivery of Crotale and SAMP/T anti-aircraft defenses. However, Ukraine’s geographical size and the volume of Geran-1/2 attacks are proving disadvantageous. With its stock of Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles dwindling, the first line of defense against the Geran-2 in particular are the air force’s fighter jets scrambled to intercept them.

Although Kyiv has amplified its success against Russia’s new loitering munitions its figures on how many are neutralized are problematic. When data from the AFU-Stratcom and Ukrainian media are logged and organized the result is an incomplete record with many gaps. AFU-Stratcom only started to update its news on Shahed-136 kills on September 23, or 10 days after the first reported kill in Kupiansk on September 13, and in the next 30 days there are scarce to non-existent records other than from October 10 onward.

The table below is a 40-day record of Shahed-136 shoot downs based exclusively on Ukrainian sources from September 13 to October 23. It’s useful to note that on October 22 Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov mentioned in an interview a total of 222 Geran-2’s have been shot down from 330 launches by Russia. Budanov’s claim almost matches the AFU-Stratcom and General Staff count until October 19, with 223 Geran-2’s shot down. Unfortunately, the AFU-Stratcom’s own records only reach 149 total shootdowns (or 58% of Budanov’s total) by October 23 while the total reported in Ukrainian news reached 132. The evidence of 330 Geran-2 launches against Ukraine is non-existent. Clearly, there are baffling discrepancies with the numbers circulating between AFU-Stratcom and Ukrainian news media. In the latter category the news agencies consulted are : Interfax Ukraine, Kyiv Post, Militarnyi (, The Kyiv Independent, Ukraine Pravda, Ukrinform, War.Ukraine*.

A brief explanation of how the table is organized: Figures listed under “Quantity” are the reported waves of drone attacks. “Shootdowns-AFU” are from the AFU-Stratcom data published on their social media pages. “Shootdowns-Media” are sourced from news agencies and their records are very incomplete. “Locations” are the cities affected by the “kamikaze drone” attacks.

* – A news website run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

September 1311Kupiansk
Sept 14
Sept 15
Sept 16
Sept 17
Sept 18
Sept 19
Sept 2021Ochakiv
Sept 21
Sept 2244
Sept 2361Odesa, Dnopropetrovsk
Sept 242
Sept 25
Sept 26
Sept 273
Sept 28
Sept 2975Mykolaiv
Sept 30
October 1
Oct 2
Oct 3
Oct 4
Oct 56
Oct 6119
Oct 7
Oct 8
Oct 91
Oct 1024913Kyiv
Oct 11
Oct 129
Oct 136
Oct 1483
Oct 156
Oct 1611
Oct 17432637Kyiv, Mykolaiv
Oct 18613
Oct 1923Mykolaiv
Oct 20201415Mykolaiv
Oct 21
Oct 221611
Oct 2316

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