scorecard4 of Russia's deadliest military systems in its war against Ukraine
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4 of Russia's deadliest military systems in its war against Ukraine

Rebecca Rommen   

4 of Russia's deadliest military systems in its war against Ukraine
DefenseDefense3 min read
  • Russia has struggled to break down Ukraine's fierce defenses since its invasion in February 2022.
  • It's since turned to both modern and Soviet weapons in an attempt to grind down Ukraine's forces.

Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Kremlin has had to adapt its battle strategy as its forces have struggled to break down fierce Ukrainian resistance and have suffered heavy losses.

Russia has since turned to both modern and old Soviet military equipment to try and turn the tide back in its favor.

Insider has taken a look at four key military systems that Russia has used to do this, from Ka-52 attack helicopters to Lancet drones.

1. Ka-52 "Alligator" attack helicopters

The Ka-52 is one of the best and most maneuverable attack helicopters in the world.

It is capable of hitting speeds of up to 300 kph, which is around 186 mph, and is armed with a 30 mm cannon, per Airforce Technology.

It can also be fitted with VIKHR anti-tank missiles, ATAKA missiles, B8V-20 rocket launchers, and IGLA-V anti-aircraft guided missiles, per the site.

The aircraft's coaxial main rotor adds to its maneuvrability and enables its to hover at a higher altitude than single main rotor helicopters.

"Unlike the single main rotor design that distributes power to both main and tail rotors, all of the power for coaxial rotors is used for vertical thrust. Thus, no power is wasted for anti-torque or directional control," according to NASA's Technical Reports Server. "The saved power helps coaxial rotors reach a higher hover ceiling than single rotor helicopters."

The Ka-52 has been a thorn in Ukraine's side during its counteroffensive, with the UK Ministry of Defence calling it "one of the single most important weapon systems" in its operations around Zaporizhzhia Oblast in southern Ukraine.

It has been credited with destroying infantry fighting vehicles such as the US-made Bradley fighting vehicle and tanks like the German Leopard 2.

But Russia's fleet of Ka-52s has been severely depleted over the course of the war, as Ukraine's air-defense systems, including US stingers, have proved highly effective in combating the aircraft, Forbes reported.

2. Dense minefields

Ukraine's counteroffensive was also hindered by Russia's densely packed minefields, which forced some Ukrainian forces to abandon their Western armored vehicles and move forward slowly on foot.

The extent of the Russian minefields has left Ukraine as the most heavily mined country on Earth, with some soldiers unearthing five mines for every square metre in certain areas, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, said.

Danilov said the number of Russian mines was "insane" and stressed the importance Ukraine was placing on saving its front-line soldiers.

"The main task for us is to save the lives of our people at the front. We have to understand that the enemy has prepared for these events very well, with a huge number of territories mined," he said, according to a report by CNN.

3. Lancet drones

Russia has also taken advantage of small "kamikaze" drones such as the Lancet drone to attack Ukrainian armored vehicles, artillery units, and other military equipment.

The Lancet, produced by a subsidiary of Russia's Kalashnikov arms manufacturer, was first introduced in 2019.

Russia is currently using an upgraded version of the drone, known as the Lancet-3, to strike targets in Ukraine.

James Patton Rogers, a drone expert at University of Southern Denmark, previously told Insider that this version had a larger payload and potentially allowed for first-person view operation, which enhanced its accuracy.

The Lancet-3 has a range of around 25 miles, weighs around 35 lbs, and cruises at about 70 mph, Forbes reported.

Patton Rogers said that the drones were most effective against targets such as older tanks, light armored vehicles, and artillery systems.

4. Soviet airplane bombs

Russia is also deploying Soviet-era airplane bombs using modern weapon systems.

The Russian bombs pose a significant challenge for Ukraine due to the difficulty of intercepting them, Oleksiy Melnyk, a military expert from Ukrainian think tank the Razumkov Center, said.

The bombs, which range from 500 to 1,500 kilograms, or about 1,100 lbs to 3,300 lbs, are only airborne for a short amount of time and lack propulsion systems that modern missiles have, making them almost impossible to shoot down, The New York Times reported.

Russia has also altered some of the missiles to enable them to glide long distances, per the report.