Ukraine built Sokol-300 UAV capable of attacking Russian Arctic bases

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A new ammunition has entered service with the armed forces of Ukraine. The resource Ukraine Battle Map [UBM] reports on a newly developed long-range drone called Sokol-300. This drone is Ukrainian-made and “resembles the Bayraktar,” says UBM. 

    The Sokol-300 measures 8.5 meters in length, and with a full wingspan, it reaches up to 14 meters wide. The payload this drone is capable of carrying is up to 300 kg. According to the infographic posted on Twitter by UBM, the drone can reach a maximum altitude of just over 9 km and has a range of 3,300 km [2,000 miles]. However, UBM asserts that the maximum flight height is actually 12 km. 

    The Sokol-300’s range is indeed impressive. 3,300 km is the distance from the border point between Russia and Ukraine to at least 80 air bases located within the Russian Arctic Circle in Murmansk. There, Moscow has stationed a significant portion of its bombers, which are increasingly participating in airstrikes in Ukraine. Strategic bombers such as the T-95 and Tu-160 are also deployed in this part of Russia.

    More about Sokol-300

    The engineers from the “Luch” design bureau have designed an attack drone called “Sokol-300”, which can be powered by several types of engines. These include Ukrainian power plants MS-500-05C/CE and AI-450T2, as well as the Austrian Rotax 914. The drone’s take-off weight directly correlates to the type of engine installed. A modification of Sokol uses two types of engines: AI-450T2 and Rotax 914. 

    Its control system consists of an inertial block and laser gyroscopes, which were developed by the tool company “Arsenal”. The drone is equipped with RK-10, P2-M, and RK-2P missiles, capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 10 km. In addition, the drone can carry a synthetic aperture radar along with a small radar station. When scanning the ground from a height of 5 kilometers, the radar’s accuracy is 30×30 cm. The “eyes” of the drone are formed by an optical-electronic station from the Barrier-B ATGM. 

    Video screenshot

    It is worth highlighting that not only does the drone’s take-off weight depend on the type of engine installed, but also its flight range. A modification equipped with the Ukrainian AP-450T2 engine can cover a distance of up to 1300 km. On the other hand, a drone powered by the Rotax 914 engine can extend its range up to 3300 km.

    Similarities to Bayraktar

    According to official data, Ukraine received 50 Turkish Bayraktar-TB2 drones. They were actively used by the armed forces of Ukraine in 2022. However, Russian air defense managed to neutralize them, making the Bayraktar-TB2 absent from the battlefield for over a year now. 

    Photo credit: Bayraktar

    The similarity between Sokol-300 and Bayraktar-TB2 is not accidental. It’s known that Turkey and Ukraine have agreed to construct a Bayraktar production plant in Ukraine. Despite this news quieting down in the latter half of 2023, the agreement likely includes a knowledge transfer, which might have contributed to the development of the Sokol-300.

    Russia’s Murmansk is no longer safe

    The range of the Sokol-300 puts Russian bombers deployed in the far north at risk. They are increasingly being ordered to join the “special military operation” in Ukraine [a term Russia uses to describe the war in Ukraine]. As a result, the Russian Olenya airbase located on the Kola Peninsula could be a direct target of the new Ukrainian drone. Reports suggest that a large-scale Russian attack on February 7 was executed by nine bombers that took off from Olenya. 

    Photo credit: Wikipedia

    Satellite snapshots from February 6 reveal intriguing details. Apparently, nine Tu-95 bombers had been dispatched from Olenya, plotting a potential attack route over Ukraine that took them across the Caspian Sea and the Saratov region. Interestingly, subsequent satellite images from the next day, February 7, showed six out of the nine Tu-95s returning to Olenya. However, the whereabouts of the remaining three bombers remain unknown, suggesting they might have moved to different bases. 

    In a fascinating revelation, recent satellite images from February 7 divulged additional information. Along with the Tu-95, the Air Force had deployed no fewer than eight Tu-22M3 strategic bombers. Moreover, the Tu-134UBL, an impressive combination of training facility and combat aviation laboratory, was also put into action.

    Is it possible?

    Video screenshot

    Is it possible for the Sokol-300 to be used for distant arctic operations? No matter how “crazy” a Ukrainian decision sounds, it has a profound logic. The Russian army still seems under the impression that it is not at war. This presumption is evident from their actions towards protecting strategically important objects, such as airports. 

    A Russian A-50 was parked in Belarus and, to everyone’s surprise, a Ukrainian drone not only flew over it but also photographed it, and even landed on it before taking off again. But that’s only one aspect of the story. How many Russian energy refineries have been hit by drones in recent weeks? How many air bases of the Russian forces have been precisely targeted by drones? The answers to these questions are – quite a lot. This highlights a clear insouciance or a complete lack of experience and strategy on the Russian side, which affects not the offensive capabilities of the army, but its defensive ones.

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