The remains of the munition were found in the Kharkiv Oblast just few weeks after the rumors about deliveries of Iranian drones to Russia.
Photos emerged online today appear to show an exploded Iranian-made drone found in Ukraine. The photos, first posted on Twitter by a Ukrainian Explosive Ordnance Disposal specialist, were taken in the Kupyansk region, in the Kharkiv Oblast, and presumably used by Russian forces. Comparing the photos with available reference material, it appears that the remains belong to a Shahed-136 loitering munition or just “direct attack munition” (since some sources say that this specific model lacks loitering capability).
Not much is left of the exploded munition, except for the wingtips and some smaller pieces. The Shahed-136 is a flying wing with tip fence-type winglets, with a length of about 2.5 meters and a wingspan of 3.5 meters. The munition is said to weigh around 200 kg and also it seems to be propelled by a piston engine and a rocket booster used for the launch, with a speed of about 185 km/h. Interestingly, reports say that the MD550 engine mentioned in the infographics is sourced on Aliexpress.
The wingtips show a difference from the original Iranian munition. In fact, other than the usual serial code (in this instance M214), the Russians applied a name in Cyrillic, ГЕРАНЬ-2, which translates as Geranium-2. There are no reports about Unmanned Aerial Systems in Russian service with that name, but we could assume this name has been locally applied to the Shahed-136.
#Ukraine: In the first credible sighting of Iranian drones in use by Russian forces, here we see the remains of a HESA Shahed-136 loitering munition (or a design based on it), which is made in Iran. From the appearance, it seems it likely detonated.
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) September 13, 2022
Better quality pictures of Iranian Shahed 136 attack drones. pic.twitter.com/1YAVfsX0bU
— Tal Inbar (@inbarspace) December 25, 2021
The munition was first publicly shown last year in the Great Prophet 17 exercise, when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched 10 Shahed-136 munitions from a truck-mounted containerized system. The munition has already seen action in the Middle East, notably against the tanker M/V Mercer Street in 2021 and the Saudi Aramco oil processing plant in 2019.
Some weeks ago, Russian officials were said to be visiting Iran and, shortly after, reports emerged about a possible delivery of Iranian drones of various types to Russia. Iranian and US officials were cited confirming the deliveries, with the latter saying that Russia was acquiring hundreds of drones from Iran, with training already in progress in July and deliveries in progress or about to begin in the same time frame.