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Are ‘kamikaze’ USVs a game changer in naval warfare?

20th March 2024 - 10:44 GMT | by Tim Fish


The Magura V5 USV is 5.5m-long and 1.5m-wide with a payload is 360kg. The craft has a cruising speed of 22kt and maximum speed of 42kt. The range of Magura is 450km and it can use radio or SATCOM terminals for communication. (Photo: GUR)

The use of uncrewed surface vehicles (USVs) by Ukraine in strike operations against the Russian Navy in the Black Sea has been extremely successful. But it is likely that the long-term impact could be limited.

On the night of 4–5 March 2024, Ukrainian USVs attacked a Russian Navy ship, the 94m-long 1,700 tonne Project 22160 Bykov-class patrol ship Sergei Kotov. Footage released by Ukrainian Defence Intelligence (GUR) showed images taken from a USV that indicated that the ship was hit three times by USVs. It was not clear, however, whether Sergei Kotov was sunk.

It was the latest in a string of USV attacks by so called ‘kamikaze’ or strike USVs that have resulted in significant damage to or sinking of Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea Fleet.

On 13 March, the GUR

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Tim Fish


Tim Fish

Tim Fish is a special correspondent for Shephard Media. Formerly the editor of Land Warfare …

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