Ukraine Situation Report: Kyiv To Hold First Person Video Drone ‘Super Bowl’
First Person Video drones are now prized weapons for Ukraine on the battlefield and it wants to go all-in on spurring domestic production.
With First Person Video (FPV) drones gaining an increasing role on the battlefield, Ukraine’s Ministry of Digitial Transformation is hosting what it calls “The Drone Army FPV Super Bowl” to help spur domestic development of these weapons.
The goal of the event, which will be held June 1, “is to show the capabilities of Ukrainian-made FPV drones to the Security and Defense Forces for further contracting,” Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Federov said on his Telegram channel Tuesday.
"We are holding a competition of FPV drone manufacturers to strengthen the Defense Forces of Ukraine," said Federov.
The competition will take place in several stages, said Federov, including hitting moving and static targets, overcoming an obstacle course and more.
“The participants will be watched by representatives of the Ministry of Defense and various branches of the military,” said Federov.
FPV drones, descended from racing drones, are commanded by an operator wearing a headset who can fly the weapon into a particular target. The drones "are the future,” Federov said, and are “successfully working on the front lines today.”
They've hit tanks, trucks, troops in trenches, and, as you can see in this video below, even other drones.
The Ministry of Digital “is systematically working on the development of defense technologies and stimulation of domestic UAV manufacturers,” he said. “So if you have cool products and want to strengthen the Drone Army with your ‘birds’ - register using the link.”
Speaking of FPV drones, the Ukrainian blockchain company Everstake donated 500 Pegasus FPV drones to Ukraine’s Drone Army, according to the Ministry of Digital Transformation.
“The drones were distributed among 13 units of the Defense Forces of Ukraine,” the ministry said on its Telegram channel Tuesday. “Some of them have already destroyed dozens of enemy objects."
FPV drones “are a competitive advantage on the battlefield. They catch up and destroy almost any target. And most importantly, they save the lives of our soldiers, who see every step of the Russians while in hiding.”
Russia, meanwhile, has launched its own crowdfunding campaign for FPV drones, which, as you can see in this video below, it is using to deadly effect as well.
“We continue to collect for a batch of FPV drones for the Russian Federation’s Armed Forces,” the Russian Colonelcassad Telegram channel wrote Tuesday. “The first thousand are going to be sent to the front in full in the near future.”
Before we head into the latest updates from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
On the battlefield, Russian forces made no progress, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on her Telegram channel.
The situation on the northern border with Belarus “is stable,” she said. “There were no signs of the formation of offensive groups on the border with the Russian Federation. The enemy continues to maintain a military presence in the border areas. It carries out mortar and artillery attacks and carries out airstrikes.”
In the south, the Russians are “on the defensive,” while the east continues to be “the epicenter of hostilities,” she said.
“The enemy does not abandon the goal of capturing Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The intensity of the enemy's offensive actions during the day is somewhat reduced. Instead, the intensity of artillery shelling and airstrikes is maintained.”
The Russians are “conducting unsuccessful offensive actions” in the Kupiansk region while ”our defenders repelled 12 enemy attacks in the area of the city of Marinka during the day.”
The Russians are “not currently conducting offensive operations in the Bakhmut direction. However, it continues shelling and carries out airstrikes. The replacement and regrouping of enemy troops is also underway in this direction.”
Ukrainian forces, she added, “control the southwestern outskirts of Bakhmut,” while “in the north and south of the suburbs of Bakhmut, the advance has not been carried out for several days, as the movement of our troops has been suspended for the performance of other military tasks. Which, in fact, are performed.”
She did not specify what those tasks were.
Another package of security aid for Ukraine will include more munitions for the U.S.-made MIM-104 Patriot air defense systems provided to Ukraine and more Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) munitions fired by the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS and the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) provided to Ukraine, a U.S. defense official told The War Zone Tuesday, confirming reporting by the Voice of America.
The $300 million package will also include more Zuni unguided rockets as well as AIM-7 air-to-air missiles for air support, additional Avenger air defense systems and Stinger surface-to-air missile systems as well as more tank ammunition. The AIM-7s are of interest as they are likely for the same Soviet-era systems that the RIM-7 Sea Sparrow was being adapted to, although we are trying to confirm that at this time. You can read more about those efforts here.
U.S. President Joe Biden has not ruled out sending Ukraine U.S.-produced Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) short-range ballistic missiles, which can hit targets at about 200 miles away with a power punch.
In a quick media gaggle before boarding Marine One on Monday, Biden was asked about the recent massive drone attack on Kyiv.
"It's not unexpected," Biden said. "That's why we got to continue to give Ukraine all that it needs."
Asked whether "it was time for ATACMS for Ukraine," Biden offered a response that seemingly keeps them on the table.
"That's still in play," he said, without offering any further details.
Biden's comment about the ATACMS does not represent a policy change, a U.S. government official told The War Zone Tuesday. "We have not provided them thus far and no decision has been made to move forward with providing them either."
Reluctance to send ATACMS has been based on fear of escalation as well as the need to keep the missiles for U.S. contingencies. A confrontation with China is top of mind in this regard.
Two people were killed and seven injured in the latest wave of drone attacks against Kyiv Monday night into Tuesday, local authorities said.
"Tonight, the enemy attacked Kyiv with Iranian…’Shahed-136/131’" drones, Serhii Popko, head of the KMVA, said on his Telegram Channel Tuesday. “A total of 31 unmanned aerial vehicles were launched from the north and south across Ukraine.”
The Air Force “in cooperation with the air defense of other components of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, destroyed 29 drones,” Popko said. “Almost all ‘Shahed’ [drones] are affected on the outskirts of the capital and in the sky of Kyiv. As a result of falling debris, fires, destruction of residential and non-residential buildings and damage to cars were recorded in various areas of the capital.”
Except for one victim, "all the casualties were recorded in the Holosiiv district of the city, where the debris hit a multi-story building," Popko said.
Ukraine continues to strike targets in Russia with artillery, mortars and drones, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on his Telegram channel Tuesday.
“The Armed Forces of Ukraine shelled a [Temporary Accommodations Center] with cannon artillery,” said Gladkov, adding that a security guard at the institution died while two other people there were injured, one critically.
“Three direct hits in the sanatorium fell on the residential and administrative buildings, as well as on the territory of the checkpoint,” Gladkov claimed. “The roof was broken, window openings and glass were broken. Two cars were also hit.”
That attack came after what Gladkov claimed was a series of strikes in Belgorod on Monday, with one man killed after nearly 200 artillery, mortar and drone strikes hit the oblast.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made some pretty bold claims Tuesday without offering any proof to back them up.
In the month of May alone, Ukraine “has lost over 16,000 troops, 16 aircraft, five helicopters, 466 drones, over 400 tanks, and other armored fighting vehicles, and 238 pieces of field artillery and mortars,” Shoigu said during a “special teleconference” Tuesday. “In addition, 196 HIMARS rockets, 16 HARM missiles, and 29 Storm Shadow long-range cruise missiles have been intercepted and destroyed.”
Despite "the AFU's significant losses, Western supervisors continue to encourage the Kyiv regime to launch a large-scale offensive," Shoigu said. "Ukraine is receiving more hardware and weapons. We monitor supply volumes and routes and strike when identified."
Shoigu added that “large Western arms depots in Khmelnitsky, Ternopol, and Nikolayev have been destroyed in recent days, as well as U.S. Patriot anti-aircraft missile system in Kyiv.”
The Pentagon "takes everything Russia says with a grain of salt," a U.S. defense official told The War Zone Tuesday. "We’d have to refer you to the Ukrainian Armed Forces regarding your questions but Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder [the Pentagon's top spokesman] spoke of the one Patriot system that has been repaired and is operational two weeks ago."
Speaking of bold claims, Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, pushed back against claims by noted Russian milblogger Igor Girkin that he was plotting a coup against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In an audio message on the Telegram channel for his company Concord, Prigozhin responded to former Russian commander Igor Girkin's accusations that he and his paramilitary outfit are preparing for a coup in Russia, saying they are untrue and that he has a "very respectful attitude" towards Putin.
"In order to carry out a coup d'état or a military coup, it is not at all necessary to have a large number of armed people," Prigozin said Tuesday in an audio message posted on his Telegram channel, according to a translation by Newsweek. "But, as a rule, coups are carried out by the army, as a rule, by some part of a breakaway army. PMC Wagner is not an army at all…we have a very respectful attitude towards the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin."
Days earlier Girkin - a former military leader in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic who is also known by the name Igor Strelkov - said Prigozhin "practically declared war on part of military and state nomenclature."
At least 100 Russian troops were killed and another 400 injured in a Ukrainian strike on a barracks in Mariupol, Mariupol mayoral advisor Petro Andriushchenko said Monday on his Telegram channel.
One hundred “‘good Russians’ will never fight again,” he wrote. “Except in hell.”
A Ukrainian official told The War Zone on Tuesday that the barracks were most likely hit by a U.K.-provided Storm Shadow air-launched cruise missile.
"The Russians have a very limited capability against low-flying objects, especially when it comes to the time detection of them," the official said.
The War Zone could not independently verify that claim.
Pavel Gubarev, a Russian nationalist and former "governor" of the so-called "Novorossiya" admitted that Russia destroyed a significant part of the male population of the occupied cities, "using them in meat assaults."
"Now there is no such category as an adult male aged 25 to 55 years," Gubarev said in a recent interview, according to the Kremlin Circus Telegram channel. "This is in fact a deserted (of adult men) territory. Those who did not leave were mobilized (by Russians) and among them were huge losses."
The "so-called 'people's militia'...continues 'to be grinded down' in senseless frontal attacks, the so-called 'meat assaults.'"
The Spy Dossier Telegram channel posted pictures on Twitter claiming to be the first destruction of a Russian PBU 55K6E mobile command post for an S-400 air defense system."
"The incident occurred during an attack by the Armed Forces of Ukraine on warehouses for temporary storage of weapons in the Kherson region," The Spy Dossier Channel reported, claiming the attack was carried out by a HIMARS munition on May 20.
And Russian military trucks were hit by Polish Warmate loitering munitions in use by the State Border Service of Ukraine.
That's it for now. We'll update this story when there's more news to report about Ukraine.
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