This is Ukraine's new tactic to attack Russian territory: weather balloons with explosives

The attacks of Ukraine in Russian territory they are becoming more and more frequent. Mainly with drones, but Russian authorities have stated in recent days that they are facing a new aerial threat from Ukraine: weather balloons equipped with explosive charge.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, last Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m. in Moscow, “an attempt by the Kiev regime to carry out a terrorist attack using two small balloons against objects on the territory of the Russian Federation”. The balloons were destroyed when they were in the regions of Tulaalmost 400 kilometers from the border with Ukraine, and Moscow466 km.

It is not the first attack of its kind by Ukraine. Two days earlier, on April 18, Russia had shot down another 5 Ukrainian balloons. As reported by the Associated Press, citing Russian sources, the balloons were equipped with a GPS device and carried explosives.

These balloons are harder to detect than many drones and can carry a larger payload. They do not have the ability to maneuver in the air, so GPS is likely to be used to coordinate the launch of the explosive upon reaching a specific area.

According to the Russian news agency MASH, these demolitions occurred after it was located in March, 64 km from the border with Ukraine, a Ukrainian weather balloon with a kilogram of TNT. This type of attack would have been designed to instill fear among the population and confuse Russian air defenses.

“At least one other artifact was destroyed in the Kursk region. Some of the balloons had 81mm mines attached, others had reflectors in the corners as radar, so that the air defense would mistake them for a drone”says MASH, who also points out that if previously these balloons were launched one by one from Ukraine, now it is done in groups. In accordance with Sergie ShoiguRussian Defense Minister, his army has shot down 37 balloons Ukrainians since the invasion began.

In images originally published by the Russian Telegram channel of the 1st Belgorod Detachment and compiled by user DanielR on Twitter, one of these balloons and its components are shown. Among them, a controller, ammunition, a GPS tracker and a Bluetooth module.

According to the balloon expert Jamey D. Jacobspeaking to The War Zone, the balloon in the images “appears to be a near-zero pressure balloon, of a type I like to call 'garbage bag' balloons because they can be constructed inexpensively from common and easily obtained materials, such as trash bags or painter's tarps, using tape or heat sealing. The dark globe may also indicate that it is a heliotrope, also known as a solar globe, and uses solar heating for full or partial elevation.”

The use of a weather balloon “seems to justify this, since it would be used for the initial ascent as a booster balloon until it explodes and then the lift balloon is used” says Jacob. “Without a propulsion system, it moves with the prevailing (winds), but you have limited control when changing altitude. Depending on the size of the balloon, which is difficult to determine here, can carry between 1 and 10 kg of payload”.

Components found in the balloon wreckage, including a device SPOT Trace which is the one that sends the GPS location data, “They are all standard balloon components”.

According to Zach YapOaire engineer, the balloons in the published images are similar to models available on Amazon, such as the one from Tedco, which is sold for 20 dollars: “the system seems to work with the idea that it will move to an area where it has been programmed to drop the payload by cutting the flight line with a hot wire.”