TechUkrainian drone strike disrupts Russian port, causes city chaos

Ukrainian drone strike disrupts Russian port, causes city chaos

A 12.7 mm or 14.5 mm projectile found in the car engine after activity by Russian anti-drone defense.
A 12.7 mm or 14.5 mm projectile found in the car engine after activity by Russian anti-drone defense.
Images source: © X (formerly Twitter) | 𝔗𝔥𝔢 𝔇𝔢𝔞𝔡 𝔇𝔦𝔰𝔱𝔯𝔦𝔠𝔱

7:17 AM EDT, May 21, 2024

The Ukrainians attacked the Russian port in Novorossiysk, supposedly a safe haven for the Black Sea Fleet, with drones. The Russians employed nearly all available defense mechanisms, but the anti-aircraft fire had severe consequences for the city's residents, reminiscent of scenes from the Battle of Midway. We explain what went wrong.

The Ukrainians continue drone attacks on targets deep in the Russian rear. Aside from refineries, one significant target is the port in Novorossiysk, where part of the Black Sea Fleet was relocated. The port in Sevastopol, Crimea, has become too dangerous due to frequent attacks by missiles such as Storm Shadow and MGM-140 ATACMS.

In the video below, you can see how the Russians are firing at the drones using all available small arms, including automatic cannons and heavy machine guns like the NSV, KPVT, and DShK. The problem, however, lies in firing towards the city, since each fired bullet must eventually fall somewhere.

The Russian barrage caused significant property damage to the city's residents. Vehicles parked on the streets, for example, were damaged. In one instance, a 0.5-inch or 0.6-inch bullet fired from a heavy machine gun pierced the hood and valve cover of an engine.

Despite an effective range of several hundred yards against flying targets, bullets fired from heavy machine guns can fly even over twice that distance while still retaining significant kinetic energy (several thousand Joules).

heavy machine guns as anti-drone defense

The idea of using machine guns for anti-aircraft defense is as old as aviation itself and seemed outdated for decades. However, the mass use of inexpensive drones has revived this practice. Until laser weapons, like the UK's Dragonfire laser, become widespread, there is no other low-cost physical elimination option for drones than barrel weapons.

An ideal solution is to operate these guns with an advanced fire control system that allows precise shooting based on radar or at least a laser rangefinder. Examples include the "monster from Tarnów" or the SMASH modules from the Israeli company Smart Shooter.

An experienced shooter who knows the flight characteristics of a given type of drone can also be effective. This is demonstrated by Ukrainian experiences with mobile intervention groups hunting Shaheds using heavy machine guns like the Browning M2 or automatic cannons like the Zastava M75.

Related content