How Did a Tiny Ukrainian Drone Destroy a Massive Russian Tank?

The Secret Weapon Unveiled

Ukrainian forces have seemingly found a way to turn their small, agile drones into tank-killers. Here's how they did it.

The Rise of Drone Warfare

According to Forbes, is producing over 100,000 explosive drones monthly, each weighing just a few pounds and typically carrying a small grenade. These first-person-view (FPV) drones are highly effective against exposed infantry but usually pose little threat to armored vehicles. That might be changing.

The T-80 Tank Incident

Recently, a Russian T-80 tank, weighing 46 tons and equipped with reactive armor and an anti-drone screen, was obliterated by a Ukrainian FPV drone. The attack was observed by a surveillance drone from the Ukrainian army's 47th Mechanized Brigade. The FPV drone zipped past the tank, turned around, and then caused a massive explosion that separated the turret from the hull and incinerated the crew.

How Did a Tiny Ukrainian Drone Destroy a Massive Russian Tank? 1

What Made the Difference?

Trent Telenko, a former quality auditor with the U.S. Defense Contract Management Agency, suggests that Ukrainian drone builders might have adapted technology from the Swedish RBS-56 anti-tank missile. The RBS-56 features a 25-pound warhead that explodes downward, targeting the thinner armor on a tank's topside.

Evidence of New Technology

The FPV drone that destroyed the T-80 seems to have used a similar top-down attack method. It likely pierced the tank's hull from above and struck its ammunition storage, causing a devastating secondary explosion. Telenko noted, “Something so simple makes an FPV far more lethal.”

How Did A Tiny Ukrainian Drone Destroy A Massive Russian Tank? 2

The Role of Foreign Aid

Ukraine has received numerous Next-Generation Light Anti-Tank Weapon (NLAW) missiles from allies. The NLAW, also designed by Bofors, has a downward-blasting warhead similar to the RBS-56. Videos on social media show Ukrainian troops removing warheads from damaged NLAW launchers, potentially repurposing them for .

Ukrainian Innovation

Ukrainian industry is capable of producing these top-down munitions independently. If they apply the same innovative approach to warhead production as they do to drones, there could be multiple types of top-down munitions in their arsenal.

The ability of tiny drones to destroy massive tanks indicates that Ukraine has developed or acquired top-down munitions for their FPV drones. This new capability significantly enhances their drone warfare strategy.

DroneXL's Take

This development marks a significant shift in drone warfare, highlighting the innovation and adaptability of Ukrainian forces. By effectively combining with advanced munitions, they are setting a new standard for asymmetric warfare. The use of drones in such a strategic manner underscores their potential to change the dynamics of modern conflicts.

Photos courtesy of X / Twitter.


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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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