• Ukrainian forces have been using improvised small consumer drones as a formidable weapon in their war with Russia
  • An unidentified USV was spotted on the beach at Omega Bay near Sevastopol in Crimea
  • Local media reports say the boat was towed out to sea and destroyed

The Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invasion was often described as a David vs Goliath fight, however, in this war of attrition, a lot of credit for Ukraine's successes lies in the country's technological ingenuity -- their ability to innovate and improvise in a face of an overwhelming enemy force.

Ukrainian forces using improvised small consumer drones as a formidable weapon in their war with Russia are well known. However, a report now says that the Ukrainians may also be using small explosive-laden drone boats to attack Russian Navy's Black Sea fleet naval ships.

According to a report in Naval News by defense analyst H.I. Sutton, an unidentified USV (uncrewed surface vessel) was found on a beach at Omega Bay near Russia's major naval base at Sevastopol in the annexed Crimean Peninsula on Wednesday. Omega Bay, which is around 150 nautical miles from Ukrainian-controlled coasts, lies just outside the entrance to the harbor, in an area used by the Russian Navy.

Sutton says that the unidentified USV found on a beach at Omega Bay is a small-bespoke vessel that is about the size of a kayak, and yet it is purposefully built, with the clear implication that the vessel is operated by Ukrainian forces.

The USV is believed to be powered by a single motor, mounted inboard, driving a steerable water jet. Although images circulating on social media do not show the interiors of the vessel, its curved shaping design with external reinforcing shows that it is built for high performance and speed, says Sutton.

Further, its external ribbing may be to break waves washing over the top. Given its small size, the vessel would also likely have a very small radar signature.

The report further adds that the vessel has a number of sensors fitted along the top of which the main one being a mast-mounted camera that is a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) type device. Sutton points out that this is likely the main sensor for steering and situational awareness. There is also a flat antenna behind the camera, possibly for navigation and/or communication.

According to the report, the USV also has a smaller camera or sensor at the bow, which appears to be fixed forward. There are also two forward-facing sensors in the bow, lending credence to the theory that the vessel was probably designed to ram another vessel and detonate like an explosive boat.

Although defense analyst Sutton clarifies that there is no confirmation of the purpose of the vessel, he refers to local media reports that aid that the boat was towed out to sea and destroyed. The action seems to suggest that the Russian military is already aware of these devices, and blowing it up indicates that the USV was carrying explosives, he points out in the report.

News of the unidentified USV comes at a time when Russia is reportedly moving its Russian Black Sea fleet of warships and submarines from Sevastopol. According to Western intelligence officials, this move by the Russian could be due to the increased risk of Ukrainian long-range strike capabilities, which would endanger the attack boats at the Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol.

Given the Ukrainian forces reporting major successes, Russian President Vladimir Putin had, on Wednesday, decreed on partial mobilization, vowing to use "all means necessary" to achieve Moscow's aims against Ukraine and the West.

The Moskva, flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, pictured in August 2013
The Moskva, flagship of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, pictured in August 2013 AFP / Vasiliy BATANOV