Drone warfare takes a deadly turn: Ukraine's HIMARS system eliminates Russian 'Judgment Day' squadron
Ukrainian forces successfully implemented a rocket strike using HIMARS systems on a cluster of FPV (First Person View) drone pilots from the Russian "Sudoplatov Battalion". The group, identified as "Judgment Day," known for their active use of FPV drones on the front line, was undergoing an examination at a training base near the village of Pokrovka. HIMARS operators accurately targeted the group of pilots and trainers, reportedly resulting in 24 fatalities and four critically injured individuals. This level of precision was attainable due to the Russian course manager's oversight, who revealed the time and location for the "Judgment Day" team's training without verifying security. Confirmation of this situation came from a Ukrainian Telegram user, who shared footage from an observation drone, and Russian bloggers affiliated with the Russian Armed Forces.
The essential role of FPV drone pilots
The Ukraine war introduces the extensive utilization of drones, including small FPV drones, in large-scale contemporary conflicts. Therefore, the loss of each pilot experiences considerably damages both parties. Luckily, Ukrainian personnel have exhibited adequate survival skills in battlefield conditions, unlike many Russian teams who seem caught off-guard, as evidenced by Ukrainians surprising them in an equipment-filled hideout.
FPV drones serve both reconnaissance and offensive operations. They can drop loads on enemy foot soldier positions or be converted into flying ammunition carrying a more potent explosive package aimed directly at enemy transportation. They're also used as psychological warfare; on several occasions, a Russian soldier surrendered after being tracked by a drone.
HIMARS launched incursion 50 miles behind the front line
The attack that neutralized the Russian pilots occurred in the Donetsk region, a total of 50 miles behind the frontline. The HIMARS system, a proficient and versatile rocket launcher mounted on an armored truck platform, executed the rocket strike. GMLRS ammunition can attack targets up to approximately 56 miles, and using the more precise ATACMS, up to 186 miles.
The HIMARS system was previously used to dismantle the Russian air and missile defense system OSA and is known to have been used in attacks on Russian airports, significantly depleting the ranks of Ka-52 helicopters used by the Russian Federation.