Ukraine’s Hobby Planes Are Being Used To Launch Kamikaze Attacks On Russia

Ukraine recently executed a striking attack on a Russian drone factory using converted Aeroprakt A-22 light aircraft. These ultralight hobby planes, locally produced in Ukraine, offer a cost-effective alternative to conventional long-range munitions such as cruise missiles.

The attack targeted the Alabuga Special Economic Zone industrial campus, situated 600 miles from the Ukrainian border and 550 miles from Moscow, where Iranian-designed drones for Russia’s war efforts are manufactured.

The Aeroprakt A-22 “Foxbat” is a high-wing hobby plane designed by Yuri Yakovlev, available either as a factory-built aircraft or a kit. Its affordability, priced at around $90,000, makes it significantly cheaper than traditional long-range arms like cruise missiles.

With a range of approximately 600 miles, surpassing that of the Neptune and Storm Shadow missiles, the A-22 proves to be an ideal candidate for low-cost, custom flying bombs. Ukrainian forces likely modified the aircraft by replacing manned controls with robotic ones and loaded them with explosives for the attack.

The assault caused damage to the factory, particularly affecting worker accommodation blocks located 1,804 feet from the main production workshops. Although there were no reported fatalities, 14 workers were injured, including two minors. The intended target remains uncertain, as the dormitories’ distance from the workshops raises questions about whether they were the primary objective.

Experts predict more such attacks in the future due to the scalability and availability of the A-22-based drones. However, the aircraft’s slow speed, reaching a maximum of 126 mph (which is significantly lower than the 600 mph (966 kph) speed that a Storm Shadow missile can attain), presents a vulnerability to Russian air defenses, although these defenses are spread thinly across Russia’s vast interior, providing ample space for Ukrainian drones to operate relatively freely.

Ukraine’s utilization of converted Aeroprakt A-22 light aircraft demonstrates a cost-effective and potentially scalable method for conducting attacks on distant targets. Despite the aircraft’s limitations, its affordability and availability present a significant challenge to traditional defense strategies, highlighting the evolving nature of asymmetric warfare in the modern era.

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