Ukrainians bring down Russian combat drones with ancient Red Army rifles. Photo/REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko/File Photo
KIEV – Colonel Smak and a team of volunteers Ukraine his team had managed to destroy three attack drones that the Russians launched at Kiev, shooting them down with ancient Red Army machine guns.
“First drone in October. It flew during the day, so it was clear. We fired on it when it entered our sector,” said the unit commander, whose callsign “Smak” stands for spirit.
Russia has dispatched large waves of Iranian Shahed drones across Ukraine in recent months, many targeting power grids.
Unlike cruise missiles, they fly relatively slowly and their small engines are noisy, so soldiers can track them by sight and sound.
“The other two flew in on the night of January 1, after New Years. It was dark, but our comrades shone a searchlight and engaged a thermal imaging camera, so we spotted them and shot them down. I personally shot them with a machine gun, said the gray-bearded Smak (49).
He leads a team of 80 civilian volunteers—some retired and others employed—who watch the drones day and night.
There are about a dozen units monitoring the skies over Kiev, as part of the territorial defense force.
The Smak team is based in a small room on the ground floor of a building under construction on the outskirts of Kiev. At 20.00, a new group arrived for night shift duties.
If an air raid siren sounds, they jump in the car and rush to the nearest hill, where they assume firing positions to try to shoot down any drones that approach the city.
In addition to the Kalashnikovs, the group is also equipped with two Degtyaryov machine guns, originally used by the Soviet Red Army in the late 1920s, which have the distinctive large round magazine and are featured in the popular video game “Call of Duty”.
When attacking drones, they fire brightly burning tracer bullets to correct their course.
Deputy commander Mykol, 50, said they have multiple units across the country monitoring drones entering the country’s airspace and relaying the information.
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