Ukraine seems to have targeted Crimea for good, since after its bridges, it attempted an attack yesterday with drones against the largest military airport of the Russians on the peninsula, as reported by Russian media, which has access to information in the Ministry of Defense of its country, pointing out about the incident:
Attack with three (3) drones against a Russian airport in Crimea
"Specifically, according to information received, the incident occurred on July 20 near a military airfield in the village of Gvardeyskoye. On this day, three drones were seen heading towards the strategic installation. Air defense forces, responding quickly to the threat, managed to neutralize the threat. Two drones were shot down by fire, another drone by electronic warfare.
It is clarified that none of the drones reached their target and no one was injured. However, such cases are of concern to the military and experts, as they indicate increasing activity in the use of drones by Ukrainian troops.
Ukrainian air and sea drone attacks against the Russian Black Sea Fleet
The Ukrainians are reminded that they had attempted several times until now with air and sea kamikazi drones to attack the Russian Black Sea fleet, as a result of which its ships were reinforced with similar weapon systems and means to deal with them.
According to reports, four of the six total attacks against the Russian navy by kamikaze maritime drones took place in the northern part of the Black Sea, near Sevastopol.
The first attack took place in October 2022 using nine aerial and seven maritime drones. The second attempt was made on March 23, 2023 with three maritime drones, while the third attack on April 24, 2023 involved only two maritime drones. In the fourth attempt on June 12, 2023, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation stated that the intelligence gathering ship "Priazovye" was attacked by six unmanned vessels.
The July 16, 2023, early-morning attack combined seven aerial drones and two sea-based drones. The attack was repulsed by air defense forces and the fleet without material damage. The next day, on the evening of Monday July 17, 2023, an attack was made on the Kerch bridge, damaging a section of the bridge connecting Russia with Crimea.
US maritime drone appeared in the Black Sea?
According to Russian sources, an American maritime drone has been spotted in the Black Sea, for the first time since the beginning of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
This was an important event, since we are talking about the SeaTracSystems SP48 model, which has unique capabilities and can be used not only for reconnaissance, but also for the detection of Russian ships, as well as for planning attacks in the Crimea.
A drone of this type is capable of carrying out missions at sea for months thanks to the use of solar panels as an energy source. Its main functions include tracking ships, satellites and intelligence gathering.
At the same time, it is important to emphasize that there has been no official information yet about the transfer of such drones to Ukraine.
The sighting of a US surface reconnaissance aircraft in the Black Sea may indicate an increased level of escalation in the region. At the same time, this may be a signal of increased external support for Ukraine in the conflict with Russia."
US RIM exercise using maritime drones (USVs)
The possible existence of the US USV in the Black Sea should not be ruled out, without necessarily coming from Ukraine, since Romania-Bulgaria are NATO countries with coasts on the Black Sea and therefore the drone in question will be able to be controlled by US forces located there.
After all, the USA is known to be a pioneer as a superpower in hybrid warfare using maritime drones (USVs). In particular, they successfully conducted the 2022 Rim of the Pacific (RimPac) exercise in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands, where it was examined how their future hybrid fleet could operate.
The exercise in question featured 4 prototype unmanned surface vessels (USVs), the Sea Hunter and Seahawk, and two converted offshore supply vessels, the Nomad and Ranger.
The four USVs were said to have carried out various missions using different payloads - controlled either by a small team deployed on an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer or, for the first time, by an unmanned ground vehicle as the center of operations.
In May 2022, the US Navy established USV Division One (USVDiv1) on the nation's West Coast to be the fleet-based testing arm for USVs and related autonomy systems. It also operates the Unmanned Vehicle Operations Center located in Port Hueneme, California.
Besides, the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain last year established Task Force 59 (TF-59), whose rapid pace of exercises and testing has seen the use of 80 unmanned systems with success. These were a diverse mix of unmanned gliders and small autonomous vessels such as Sail-drones and MANTAS USVs.
From the above we understand in general that the war in Ukraine has highlighted the importance of air and sea drones in the development of military operations and especially that Kiev has targeted using them for the good objectives of strategic importance in Crimea and also the Russian Black Sea fleet.
However, the Russians have learned from their mistakes and seem to be successfully countering Ukrainian drones, air and sea, with a combination of fire and electronic warfare weapons of late.