Ukraine’s new underwater kamikaze drone ‘Marichka’ is seen being lowered into the water for testing in a sign it could soon be unleashed on Russian warships.
The black 20ft-long torpedo with 450kg of explosives packed inside is also expected to be used to target Vladimir Putin’s $4 billion Crimean Bridge, which Kyiv has already managed to hit twice.
Footage posted online shows the $500,000 vessel being checked over at a secret location.
Sea drones have become one of Ukraine’s key weapons in fending off Russia’s invasion and the military has steadily built up their sophistication, range, and accuracy.
Specialist naval defense website navalnews.com said of the new model: ‘Marichka will hit the ships on the underwater part, which can be even more destructive for the warships.
‘A swarm of these suicide underwater uncrewed vehicles is very hard to defend.’
Its makers say it has a range of 620 miles, meaning it could reach nearly any point in the Black Sea from ports in western Ukraine, and ‘cannot be detected by radars, scanners, and echo sounders’.
The submarine drone can also be used for reconnaissance and has the capacity to lurk on standby mode in the water before being directed at a target.
Ukraine has stepped up its attacks in the Black Sea and on the Crimean Peninsula and started using missiles in addition to assault drones.
Kyiv has said that destroying the Russian Black Sea fleet would significantly speed up the end of the war.
Its special forces claimed on Monday that the Kremlin’s top admiral in Crimea had been killed alongside 34 other officers in last week’s missile attack on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in the port of Sevastopol.
Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet and one of Russia’s most senior navy officers, was reportedly killed in the attack.
If confirmed, it would be one of Kyiv’s most significant strikes on Crimea, which Russia seized and annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
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