TechUkrainian 'decapitating drone' with katana: a military innovation or more social media hype?

Ukrainian 'decapitating drone' with katana: a military innovation or more social media hype?

Ukrainian FPV drone with an attached katana during flight.
Ukrainian FPV drone with an attached katana during flight.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | OSINTtechnical

8:54 AM EST, January 22, 2024

The Ukrainian conflict marked the first large-scale use of drones for kinetic attacks. Often, these are commercially available drones modified to carry weaponry.

Initially, drones were equipped to drop various payloads on the enemy, such as grenades or mortar shells. But over time, they evolved to accommodate specialized or professionally modified ammunition like Switchblade or Warmate. These are capable of taking out infantry soldiers, armored personnel carriers, and even state-of-the-art tanks. Furthermore, drones have been used to plant mines in enemy zones.

The video below is the second instance where a Ukrainian soldier attached a Japanese katana to a drone. While theoretically, such a drone could potentially be used to decimate enemies or impale them, realistically, this is impractical and inefficient.

Challenges of strapping a katana to a drone

Despite being incredibly sharp, a Japanese katana is very light, necessitating a significant amount of force from the bearer to cut through rigid materials. This contrasts, for example, with a heavier European sword, whose heft aids in slicing more intricate objects.

When it comes to attaching a katana to a lightweight drone, it simply isn't effective. Theoretically, the necessary force could be achieved with higher speed, but commercial drones cannot match the significant weight and speed capabilities of the AGM-114R9X missiles.

In conclusion, the flying katana appears to be a product of the imaginative creativity of Ukrainian soldiers positioned in the rear of the front lines and will likely serve merely to intimidate via social media. However, it's expected that the drone seen in the footage will be fitted with a standard payload like a submunition or a PG-7VL grenade, or something similar before actually entering a battle situation.

Related content