TechUkraine's decoy tactics fool Russian drones in the ongoing conflict

Ukraine's decoy tactics fool Russian drones in the ongoing conflict

Model M777 hit by the Russians
Model M777 hit by the Russians
Images source: © X | @bayraktar_1love
Norbert Garbarek

25 June 2024 08:26

Concealed in the bushes, the M777 howitzer waited for the Russians. The Ukrainians had prepared a decoy for the Russian Federation's army, which fell for it and struck the low-value M777 mock-up with a Lancet drone.

Both sides of the conflict use weapon decoys. The Russians employ this tactic in their ports, particularly in Novorossiysk, where, in March, British intelligence spotted a submarine mock-up painted on concrete.

Higher-quality decoys are also used on the front line. These mock-ups closely resemble real weapons and are not merely paintings on concrete. The Ukrainians have demonstrated that they can create such solutions, which are difficult to identify as false targets from a distance.

In April, photos surfaced online showing Ukrainians constructing mock-ups of the HIMARS and M1097 Avenger air defence systems. A month earlier, the Russian army boasted about capturing a Ukrainian AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel radar, which turned out to be a mock-up.

The defending army can now boast another success, as – according to the @bayraktar_1love profile on platform X – the Russians fell for it again. They targeted an M777 howitzer mock-up with a Lancet drone, which the Ukrainians have added to their arsenal at least a dozen times since early June.

They thought they were shooting at a real howitzer

As journalist Karolina Modzelewska previously explained, preparing an M777 Howitzer mock-up costs around 1000 USD. This is likely because the M777 is essentially a tiny weapon with few elements that must be accurately replicated in the decoy.

Additionally, the howitzer above is quite popular on the front line. Thanks to Estonia, the Ukrainians received dozens of units at the beginning of 2023. The history of this weapon dates back to the 1980s when the British started producing it for the US armed forces.

The Americans who commissioned the British to build it emphasised that the equipment needed to meet several conditions: the ability to be transported by C-130 planes (or larger), helicopters, and combat vehicles. They also noted the necessity of adapting the howitzer for unloading on open beaches from light boats and landing craft.

The result was the M777 howitzer, 34 feet long (in combat position) and weighing approximately 4.1 tons. For firing, it uses a 155 mm calibre barrel, 128 feet long, which can launch fragmentation-explosive shells to 16 miles or 19 miles with rocket-assisted ammunition. The M777 is also equipped to fire M982 Excalibur shells, which reach a range of 25 miles. Operating this weapon requires a crew of 5-7 soldiers.

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