Kyiv is by now depressingly familiar with the sights and sounds of drone and missile attacks, but on Thursday evening, a particularly intense battle raged in the skies of the capital as air defenses fought to bring down yet another target.
Shortly before 8 p.m., air raid sirens rang out across the city, an almost daily occurrence that has increased in frequency over the last week as Russia increases the pace of missile and drone attacks on Kyiv.
Air raid alerts are frequently precautionary and don’t always signal an attack but almost immediately after sounding, the engine buzz of a drone and the sound of air defenses working told everyone that this wasn’t one that should be ignored.
Footage posted on social media showed a drone flying over right over the center of the city, close to the capital’s famous Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) and then lazily looping around the skies of the city.
The intensity of the anti-aircraft fire appeared much higher than usual – Kyiv Post reporters heard and saw a barrage of flak as well as a number of air defense missiles being fired at the drone, causing a constant thunder-like rumble to sound across the city for nearly 20 minutes.
On the streets, people ran to the nearest metro station to take cover, assuming Russia was once again launching a major attack.
As the above video shows, the drone was finally intercepted in a spectacular explosion over the center of Kyiv that sparked shouts of joy from onlookers.
The all clear was swiftly given and people quickly resumed their evenings in Kyiv’s bars and restaurants, thankful that the city’s air defenses had once again thwarted what they assumed to be another Russian attack.
But it wasn’t Russia?
It was not. There were murmurings on social media not long after the incident as weapons experts pointed out the drone in question looked nothing like the Iranian-made Shahed drones that normally attack Ukrainian cities. It was also much larger.
The only Russian-operated drone that resembles the one shot down over Kyiv is the Korsar (developed by KB Luch). However, the drone appears to more closely resemble the Bayraktar TB2, which is operated by Ukraine, meaning this may well have been a friendly fire incident. https://t.co/3DaCCBROff— Guy Plopsky (@GuyPlopsky) May 4, 2023
So, what was it?
A malfunctioning Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2.
A statement released by the Ukrainian air force at around 11 p.m. confirmed one of Ukraine’s own drones had “lost control” during a scheduled flight.
It added: “Since the uncontrolled presence of UAVs in the sky of the capital could lead to undesirable consequences, it was decided to [shoot it down].
“The target is destroyed!”
Bayraktars are Turkish-made unmanned drones used for surveillance, reconnaissance and, unlike the Iranian-made kamikaze drones that Russia uses to atttack Ukrainian cities, can carry four laser-guided bombs for attack missions.
It's currently unclear why one was operating in Kyiv's airspace.
What was the cause of the malfunction?
That’s still being established but the air force statement it was “probably a technical malfunction,” adding: “It’s a pity, but this is technology, and such things happen.”
Was anyone hurt?
Thankfully not, despite the fact that debris from the destroyed drone fell over central Kyiv.
The city’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said “firefighters put out a fire on the ground floor of a four-story shopping center” in the Solomyansky district.
The fire spread over 50 square meters (538 square feet) and caused some superficial damage but no victims were reported, he added.
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