Ukraine’s kamikaze drones destroyed Russia’s high-value radio frequency relay station

Ukrainian forces destroyed a cutting-edge Russian radar worth an estimated $25 million in a drone attack this week, Kyiv’s military said.

The Special Operations Forces (SSO), one of the five branches of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, released footage of a combat operation that showed its troops targeting a Russian R-416GM “Granit-M” digital radio relay communications station.

Russia’s military began using the R-416GM in 2018. It was designed to enhance the efficiency of radio relay communication units in field conditions, the SSO said.

The aerial footage shows the relay station and the moment it was struck by a drone, causing an explosion, fire and thick plumes of smoke.

“Operations personnel from the 3rd Separate Special Purpose Regiment identified a Russian R-416GM digital radio relay station while performing operations on one of the fronts,” the SSO said, sharing footage of the operation on its social media channels.

R-416GM radio frequency relay station.

“Our operatives attacked the enemy target using one of the latest developments recently supplied to the Special Operations Forces,” the SSO added. “Due to their accurate fire, the R-416GM station was disabled, disrupting communication between the command post and the terrorist army units.”

The footage was also shared by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry on X, formerly known as Twitter, writing: “For the first time in the history of this war, R-416GM, a modern russian mobile communication station, was destroyed by @SOF_UKR operators.”

Newsweek couldn’t independently verify when or where the footage was filmed and has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry for comment by email.

A day earlier, Ukraine’s military reported that its forces destroyed at least two S-300/S-400 Russian air defense radar systems in Crimea.

And independent Russian outlet ASTRA reported on its Telegram channel on Wednesday, citing regional emergency services sources, that a Ukrainian strike using U.S.-supplied missiles on a key Russian military air base in annexed Crimea struck two air defense systems and a radar.

A U.S.-based think tank assessed this week that Kyiv may be conducting an effort aimed at degrading Russian air defenses ahead of anticipated F-16 fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine.

If this push is successful, it “could enable Ukraine to more effectively leverage manned fixed-wing airpower in the long run,” the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said in its latest analysis of the conflict in Ukraine on Wednesday.

Kyiv’s forces may seek to actively degrade Russian air defenses before Ukraine receives a significant number of aircraft “in order to set conditions for Ukraine’s future use of manned fixed-wing airpower closer to frontline areas.”

“Ukrainian forces may be able to eventually work towards a concept of operations that combines fixed-wing airpower to support ground operations if the Ukrainian military receives a sufficient number of fighter jets, Western partners train enough trained pilots, and if Ukraine succeeds in degrading Russian air defense capabilities,” the ISW added.

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