Ukraine replenishes Bayraktar supply among Western promises of anti-tank weapons
NATO and its allies have promised close to 20,000 anti-tank weapons and missiles to Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces, and the country appears to have taken delivery of more weapons from the United States and Turkey.
“The amount of aid we receive is increasing. The number of countries providing this aid is increasing. Even those countries for which it seemed impossible are joining,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
The minister confirmed rumours on the delivery of Turkey’s Bayraktar TB2 drones to Ukraine, and announced further support from the United States.
“New bayraktars have already arrived in Ukraine and are on combat duty. There will be more stingers and javelins,” Reznikov said.
The delivery most probably happened in the final days of February, when Turkish Air Force Airbus A400M transports made a number of flights between Ankara and Rzesow in Southern Poland, journalist David Hambling wrote for Forbes magazine on Thursday.
The weapons provided by more than 10 NATO member states and allies will prove crucial in the next phase as the combat shifts to urban centres, Hambling said.
“Perhaps the most surprising new addition to the Ukrainian arsenal is a consignment of Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey,” he said. “These Predator-like drones, armed with small laser-guided missiles, have proved surprisingly effective against Russian forces.”
There had been expectations that Russian forces would easily shoot down the drones, manufactured by the top defence company Baykar owned by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law, but the Bayraktar has destroyed numerous Russian vehicles, he said.
The Turkish drones have been used to strike fuel tankers in a bid to reduce Russia’s fuel supply, which would stall the offensive and make the giant Russian military convoy en route to Kyiv a target for ground forces.
Striking the convoy directly with Bayraktars may not be possible as it is likely to be well-defended, Hambling added.
Recent video releases by Ukrainian sources suggest a shift to tactical support for the drones and countering Russian artillery, he said. However, drones will give way to anti-tank weapons as the combat moves to urban centres.
Ukraine’s supply does not appear to be running out anytime soon. As it stands, the country has been promised some 14,800 units by European countries and another 4,500 by Canada.
The vast majority of Russian armoured vehicles can be taken out with these lighter weapons, such as the Swedish AT4, and with a 20,000-strong supply, Ukraine has them in far greater numbers than the number of Russian armored vehicles in the country, Hambling said.
As Ukraine prepares for urban combat, “Russians will have a seemingly impossible task in conquering the country”, he concluded.