Speculation turns into truth: Ukraine uses Shark-HIMARS pairing

It has long been speculated among various sources that the Armed Forces of Ukraine [AFU] are using a drone to correct HIMARS artillery fire.

Whether to further fuel these speculations or debunk them, an interesting photo has surfaced that has been shared among both Ukrainian and Russian media and social media profiles. The Shark UAV is placed in front of the HIMARS rocket launcher.

The drone is placed on a stand on the ground, with the camera located at the bottom of the fuselage facing the photographer who took the photo. At the same time, the cabin of the chassis, which carries the HIMARS missile launcher, has two front doors open. This “gesture” hints that the HIMARS missiles are also flying “with the assistance of the Shark UAV.

“The remarkable duo – M142 HIMARS and Shark reconnaissance UAV,” this is what @Archer83Able wrote in his tweet, sharing the two photos and making a reference to the speculations that are already becoming true. @PStyle0ne1 also shared on Twitter the same two photos, but added in his comment “…And it is going to get much worse thanks to ATACMS…”

How did the speculation come about?

Throughout a substantial portion of the current year, Ukraine’s usage of the HIMARS missile launchers, a gift from the United States, had been sporadic and often lacked success due to interceptions by Russian air defense systems. 

Soviet SAM systems shoots down dozens of Sukhois at medium altitude - buk-m
Photo credit: Wikipedia

However, there has been a significant improvement in the fire accuracy of the HIMARS in recent weeks. Consequently, a video circulated that sparked widespread interest. This interest was particularly noticeable among those who had detected the improved fire accuracy in the Ukrainian military’s operations. 

While the video doesn’t provide conclusive evidence, it seems to suggest Ukraine’s deployment of a ‘Shark’ drone to identify five Russian ‘Buk’ missile systems before obliterating them with HIMARS. Okko, a Ukrainian energy company, showcased a video with mobile military equipment evident in Zaporizhzhia territory, categorized as “Buk” or SA-11 missile systems. 

The aforementioned video displays the once menacing units disappearing in plumes of smoke and fire, a direct consequence of a HIMARS strike that turned them into debris. As stated by Okko, the “Shark” drone, which was provided by them, assisted in determining the location of these launchers. 

Speculation turns into truth: Ukraine uses Shark-HIMARS pairing
Photo credit: UkrSpec Systems

Furthermore, in a philanthropic move, Okko, in partnership with the non-profit “Return Alive”, donated two Shark drones to Ukrainian military intelligence in July. This effort was part of the “Eye for an Eye” charity project designed to raise capital for equipping the Ukrainian defense forces.

Precise optics

The Ukrainian Shark UAS is a highly advanced unmanned aerial system. It boasts impressive technical characteristics that make it a formidable drone in its class. With a wingspan of 3.4 meters and a weight of 25 kilograms, the Shark UAS is capable of flying at altitudes of up to 3,000 meters. Its maximum speed reaches 130 kilometers per hour, allowing for swift and efficient operations.

The optics of the Sharp UAS are believed to be extremely precise due to several factors. Firstly, the drone is equipped with stabilized gimbals that ensure steady and smooth footage, even in challenging flight conditions. This stability allows for clear and focused imagery, eliminating any blurriness or distortion that may occur during flight.

Speculation turns into truth: Ukraine uses Shark-HIMARS pairing
Photo credit: UkrSpec Systems

Additionally, the Sharp UAS utilizes advanced image processing algorithms that enhance the quality of the captured visuals. These algorithms work in real time to correct any imperfections, such as noise or color distortion, resulting in sharper and more accurate images.

The combination of stabilized gimbals and sophisticated image processing technology contributes to the exceptional precision of the optics on the Sharp UAS.

Shark-HIMARS pair

The pairing of the Shark drone with the HIMARS artillery system works through a combination of advanced technology and real-time data exchange. The Shark drone is equipped with sensors and cameras that provide a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield. When the HIMARS artillery system fires, the Shark drone captures the trajectory and impact of the artillery rounds.

Speculation turns into truth: Ukraine uses Shark-HIMARS pairing
Photo credit: Twitter

Using its sensors and cameras, the Shark drone then analyzes the data and compares it to the intended target. It calculates any deviations or errors in the artillery fire and relays this information to the HIMARS system in real time.

Based on the data received from the Shark drone, the HIMARS system can make adjustments to its firing parameters, such as elevation, azimuth, and charge, to correct the artillery fire.

The pairing of the Shark drone with the HIMARS artillery system enhances the overall effectiveness and accuracy of the artillery fire. Providing real-time feedback and correction minimizes the need for manual adjustments and improves the speed and efficiency of the artillery operations.

Speculation turns into truth: Ukraine uses Shark-HIMARS pairing
Photo credit: UkrSpec System

Furthermore, the Shark drone’s ability to quickly assess the impact of artillery rounds allows for rapid target acquisition and adjustment. This is particularly valuable in dynamic battlefield situations where targets may be moving or changing rapidly.

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