First UAV Anti-Ship ‘Kill’?
The Ukrainian Navy, on its official Facebook page (hey this is war in the 21st Century, here, I’m just surprised it wasn’t announced on Tick Tok first), said the Russian Black Sea Fleet’s Project 1171 (Tapir-class/NATO: Alligator) landing ship (LST) Orsk (148) was sunk while at the dock in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian port city of Berdyansk in the Sea of Azov.
Video shows two Ropucha-(Project 775) class assault ships beating feet from the explosions on Orsk with one having a fire on deck amid debris raining down.
This points to Orsk being hit while unloading munitions.
Janes reports that a video of Orsk offloading BTR-82A armored personnel carriers in Berdyansk was posted on Twitter by Russia’s state-affiliated media channel RT on 21 March.
As the trio of lightly defended Russian ships docked at Berdyansk three days ago at a fixed location and everyone in the region knew it, this is just poor judgment on the behalf of the Black Sea Fleet– akin to the tragic British foul-up at Bluff Cove in the Falklands.
You just don’t leave ‘phibs in unprotected anchorages in daylight where the enemy may have some air power to whistle up, not in modern times.
What sank the Orsk is foggy as some Ukrainian sources claim simple Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 UAVs– which have claimed some 800 vehicle and bunker kills as a type in Syria, Libya, Ethiopia, Armenia and Ukraine in the past few years– launched missiles that resulted in serious secondary explosions on the old LST. If so, it is the first combat ship “kill” by a UAV, which is historic.
More on the Barayktar, the “Drone of the Decade” which is apparently at hit at the DimDex defense expo in Doha, and for good reason.
Of course, others speculate the vessel was hit by a land-based missile system, as the Ukrainian Army has operational Soviet-era 9K52 Luna-Ms/FROG-7s and OTR-21 Tochka-U/SS-21 Scarabs while the Navy has new Р-360 Neptunes– converted Kh-35/AS-20 Kayaks– all of which are truck-mounted.
As it is obvious the Russians had munitions on the dock, poor handling due to non-existent Captain of the Port safeguards and/or sabotage can also not be ruled out.