Anti-aircraft gunners of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) destroyed a high-end Russian drone over the Black Sea, the local Air Force command posted to social media on Monday. The downed UAV was identified as a Forpost, a Russian-made attack and reconnaissance drone, originally based on Israeli designs for the Searcher, updated to resemble the Turkish-made Bayraktar, and estimated to cost $7 million.

“Over the day, on 1 April 2024, the soldiers of the Odesa anti-aircraft missile brigade destroyed a Russian Forpost attack and reconnaissance UAV in the Black Sea,” the Air Force wrote.

According to Illia Yevlash, spokesperson for the Air Force Command, as quoted by Ukrainska Pravda, the Forpost drone is one of the most expensive in the world, able to carry two missiles or other air-to-ground weapons.

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The Air Force downed a pretty good target today. We don't shoot down targets like that very often, but we managed to hit one of the most expensive attack drones, of the Forpost type,” he said. “This is a Russian UAV, worth about seven million dollars.”

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An “unidentified device” detonated in an SUV in the Luhansk-region town of Starobilsk on Monday afternoon, AFP reported, killing a Moscow-installed bureaucrat. The victim was identified as Valery Chaika, a local official.

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Zelensky says drones are the key factor in winning the war

Unmanned aerial attack vehicles will be “one of the decisive factors for victory in the war,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address to the nation.

He said he held a three-hour meeting on April 1 to discuss the issue with government and military officials. The use of aerial and surface drones has been credited for changing warfare, and Ukraine has used them to slice up Russia’s naval fleet in the Black Sea, for example.

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“Our defense industry must produce precisely what the war requires in the amount that is necessary and as timely as needed,” Zelensky added.

The meeting also covered interoperability with NATO, ahead of this summer’s summit in Washington on July 9-11.

“Only with Ukraine in the Alliance can we count on real security in Europe,” Zelensky said.

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