The Daily Telegraph

Whining of ‘the moped’ heralds the arrival of modern doodlebug

- By Campbell Macdiarmid and Roland Oliphant

IN 1944, residents of southeast England learnt to dread the stuttering growl of primitive pulse jet engines – the sound of the V1 flying bombs.

Today, Ukrainians are becoming familiar with the sound of a new doodlebug – the Iranian Shahed-136 Kamikaze drone.

The distinctiv­e whine of its cheap petrol engine has already seen it dubbed “the moped” by Ukrainian front-line soldiers.

“All night and all morning, the enemy terrorises the civilian population. Kamikaze drones and missiles are attacking all of Ukraine,” said Volodymyr Zelensky, the country’s president, on the Telegram messaging app.

Russian forces have apparently obtained scores of the cheap and potentiall­y deadly Iranian-made drones. They hope the weapons could turn the tide of the war in Russia’s favour. The drone strikes are a rudimentar­y new form of terror, compared with the precision Kalibr cruise missiles that have been used to hit targets deep inside Ukraine.

Made by the Iran Aircraft Manufactur­ing Industries Company, the Shahed-136 has a range of up to 1,500 miles and carries a warhead of 35 kilograms. They are designed to loiter overhead before striking targets. Ukrainian forces say they come in both Kamikaze and munition-launching variants.

Made from commercial­ly available components – including mobile phone parts and model aircraft engines – the drones are easy and cheap to build with a supply chain that is difficult to disrupt with Western sanctions.

Their deployment comes amid signs that Russia’s weapons stocks are dwindling. Last week, Sir Jeremy Fleming, the head of GCHQ, said: “We believe Russia is running short of munitions.”

The drones are said to cost less than £18,000 each. The price of convention­al Russian missiles ranges from about £270,000 for a Tochka-u up to £11.6 million for an x-101 cruise missile.

Tehran has repeatedly rejected accusation­s it has supplied Russia with arms “to be used in the war in Ukraine”.

But security officials told The Washington Post that Iranian technical advisers have visited Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine to give drone training.

The use of Kamikaze drones has alarmed Ukraine’s European allies, with EU foreign minister’s meeting yesterday to discuss further sanctions on Tehran in response.

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom