On March 23, 2017, a massive explosion arose at an ammunition depot in Balakliya, Ukraine. In an act of sabotage, Ukraine believes that a Russian drone bomb was dropped onto their storage facility filled with ammunition. According to Press Reader, Ukraine’s Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matios claimed that “there were signs that the ammunition depot had been attacked by a drone.” With more than 10,000 tons of ammunition at Balakliya, it didn’t take much to set off a chain reaction of rockets. Take a look for yourself at the back to back explosions:
Did a Drone Bomb Cause All That?
A drone attack was attempted back in December 2015 at Balakliya, so using rigged drones to bomb that specific area is nothing new. Popular Mechanics is even claiming that a drone carrying a grenade did in fact start the massive explosion in Balakliya.
What Kind of Drone Bomb Was It?
A ZMG-1 thermite grenade is believed to have dropped from a drone; this type of grenade can even burn through steel plates. Thermite grenades need to be placed onto a target rather than thrown; they produce a temperature of over 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit once they are ignited. According to an article on Scout.com, Ulrike Franke, a drone expert at the European Council of Foreign Relations, said, “A weapons depot is such a good target for drones because incendiary device dropped from the drone only needs to act as fuse, using the materiel on the ground for the actual explosion.”
Drones in Wars
Drones have been used in wars for years now, but the misuse of consumer grade drones is a controversial topic. Yuneec and DJI offer low-priced drones capable of being used in wars for surveillance, and they can even be rigged to drop grenades. War in areas such as the Philippines and Iraq are currently utilizing rigged consumer grade drones to do more than just aerial photography.
Counter Drone Bomb Technology.
Explosions caused by drones bring concern from many countries, so it is no wonder why governments are investing in counter UAV technologies. If only the Ukrainian government implemented some sort of counter UAV system, then their ammunition dump might not have exploded. This explosion is an example of the dangers of drones in the wrong hands. It is still unclear what exact drone model caused the damage. Regardless, a single grenade carrying consumer grade drone is still capable of setting off a destructive explosion.