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Russia Deploys RPG Rocket-Armed Aerial FPV Drones to Target Ukrainian Patrol Boats on Dnieper River

The Russian Ministry of Defense released a video on April 6, 2024, demonstrating the use of innovative drone warfare tactics. The footage showcased First Person View (FPV) drones, armed with the warhead of an RPG-7 type rocket, being used by the Russian armed forces to target Ukrainian patrol boats on the Dnieper River. This strategic river flows through Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, and is of significant geographical, economic, and historical importance to Ukraine.
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Russian forces uses FVP First Person View aerial drone armed with RPG rocket warhead to target Ukrainian patrol boat on the Dnieper River. (Picture source Video footage Russian MoD)

Controlling the Dnieper River is strategically vital for Russian forces as it provides significant operational advantages in terms of logistics, supply lines, and territorial dominance in the region.

As a natural geographical barrier that divides the country into east and west, the Dnieper provides a formidable obstacle to military advances, enabling Ukrainian forces to establish defensive lines along its wide and difficult-to-cross expanse. The river's significant role in Ukraine's infrastructure—hosting vital hydroelectric power stations and serving as a critical transportation route—means that control over its crossings, dams, and adjacent territories is essential for maintaining energy supplies and logistic lines within the country.

Furthermore, the Dnieper's historical and symbolic significance to the Ukrainian people bolsters national morale and unity, making its defense a matter of both strategic necessity and national pride. In the face of the Russian invasion, the river acts not only as a physical barrier but also as a strategic asset in Ukraine's efforts to safeguard its territory and assert its sovereignty.

The video highlighted operations conducted by UAV (Unmanned Aerial Units) units of the Russian Marine Corps of the Black Sea Fleet, specifically from the Dnepr group of troops. These units are reportedly engaging daily in the destruction of objects and personnel of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, particularly in the Kherson direction. Operators of these unmanned aerial vehicles identified an enemy vessel on the right bank of the Dnieper River.

The Russian Ministry's video provided a detailed look at the preparation involved in these operations, showing a soldier equipping a quadcopter drone with an RPG-7 rocket propelled grenade launcher's warhead. The drone was controlled using a game console and 3D view glasses, underscoring the technological advancement and innovative tactics being employed in modern warfare.

Upon identifying the target, the Russian operator launched FPV armed drones towards the enemy vessel. The operation was meticulously executed, with one operator controlling the drone's flight towards the target, while an assistant adjusted its path to ensure precise targeting. This collaborative effort culminated in the drone striking an enemy boat that was attempting to cross the Dnieper, as recorded by the assistant.

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The Russian FPV drone is controlled thanks to the use of a game console and 3D view glasses. (Picture source video footage Russian MoD).

In May 2023, the Russian Press agency TASS reported that first-person view (FPV) drone armed with RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) rocket has been developed in the Sverdlovsk Region for deep strikes across the frontline, for upsetting the delivery of ammunition to the enemy and for hitting armored vehicles in closed positions.

The drone is able to carry RPG-7 grenades, such as PG-7VL, hand anti-tank grenades RKG-3M, as well as makeshift fragmentation charges made at the frontline from epoxy resin and buckshot.

According to the manufacturer, the main task of drone armed with RPG-7 type warhead is to hit enemy targets in tactical depth in order to isolate the combat zone, to block a certain area, to thwart attempts to deliver ammunition, personnel and equipment and to hinder the enemy’s operations as much as possible. Tanks operating from closed positions and hiding from our anti-tank guided missiles behind the folds of the terrain are another type of priority target. The drone can spot such a vehicle and perform a diving maneuver to hit it.

The RPG-7 is a portable, shoulder-fired, anti-tank rocket-propelled grenade launcher that has been in use since the late 1960s. Known for its simplicity and effectiveness, it has become one of the most widely used anti-tank weapons in the world. The RPG-7 is capable of firing a variety of warheads, designed to penetrate armored vehicles, destroy fortifications, or engage enemy personnel with explosive firepower. In modern warfare, the RPG-7 has adapted beyond its initial anti-tank role to serve as a versatile tool in asymmetric warfare, guerrilla tactics, and urban combat scenarios. Its ease of use, low cost, and effectiveness at short to medium ranges make it a formidable weapon against both traditional and irregular forces.

As technology evolves, its application alongside modern equipment, such as drones, as seen in Russian Ukrainian conflict, showcases the RPG-7’s enduring relevance on the battlefield.

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Russian FPV (First Person View) quadcopter drone armed with an RPG-7 type rocket warhead. (Picture source video footage Russian MoD)

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