Screengrab of footage posted by the Ukrainian general staff showing the moment a Ukrainian Bayraktar TB2 armed UAV struck a separatist D-30 122 mm howitzer in Donbass on 26 October. (Ukrainian general staff)
The Ukrainian armed forces general staff confirmed on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) website on 26 October that Ukraine had used a Bayraktar TB2 armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in anger for the first time during a counter-battery mission in Donbass earlier the same day.
The general staff posted a video that had appeared earlier on social media showing the control screen of a Bayraktar TB2 – familiar from the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – as it observes and engages what appears to be a D-30 122 mm towed howitzer. Three people can be seen operating the D-30 before some form of ordnance is detonated on or near the howitzer.
The three gunners can be seen diving for cover behind the gun and running away after the explosion. The camera then zooms out revealing the gun to have been one of three towed artillery pieces.
The separatist forces had shelled Ukrainian positions from the maximum range of their guns, which was beyond the detection capabilities for Ukrainian counter-battery systems in the area, according to Roman Donik, a volunteer fighter who posted the video on Twitter and other outlets ahead of the general staff announcement.