These drones are similar to those used by the Ukrainian military in late October to attack ships of the Russian Navy in the Black Sea. It is stated that the drones will be locally produced, in confirmation of which photos from an unnamed enterprise in the Zaporozhye region were posted on the Internet.
Whether the drones for which the funds are being raised are domestically produced or some variation of Western maritime drones, or whether they will be bought abroad at all, nothing can be reliably said yet. The only thing that is indisputable is that it is impossible to create a stable working marine drone in the shortest possible time on your own. And there were no reports that relevant research work in Ukraine led to any positive results in previous years.
But the fact remains that the photographs posted on the Internet show the hulls of several boats, similar to the one that was discovered on September 21 on coastal rocks near Sevastopol. The very appearance of a drone there suggests that either this happened as a result of a navigation error, or the drone is really Ukrainian-made and is used unfinished.
This conclusion was reached, in particular, by the expert of the US Maritime Institute, Henry Sutton. After studying Ukrainian photos, he came to the conclusion that the drone could very well be a "Frankenstein" assembled from what was at hand. He recognized the cannon as a relatively recent Canadian Sea-Doo jet ski engine, perhaps a GTX or a FishPro. Even the "No Step" sticker matches these fun floats.
It's impossible to tell the power plant from the outside, but some Sea-Doo models are powered by high-performance Rotax three-cylinder gasoline engines that can propel the boat up to 70 miles per hour.
Percussion fuses are visible on the nose of the Ukrainian drone. In appearance, they are similar to the FAB-500 Soviet aerial bomb fuses.
However, the hull of the boat is not such a complicated thing. You can remake a Canadian jet ski, as Sutton points out, you can use the blueprints of existing boats so as not to waste time testing. The main thing is electronics, without which a boat filled with explosives is useless. Various sensors, cameras, positioning and communication systems, as well as a computer and software on the knee cannot be made, and their work cannot be quickly synchronized.
Therefore, the option of large-block assembly, which they intend to organize in Ukraine, looks the most likely. In addition, it is easier to arrange the supply of parts and components than ready-to-use boats. And the appearance was changed so as not to betray the country of origin of the marine drones that threaten the Russian fleet.
The Ukrainian military gained experience in controlling maritime drones back in the spring, when, according to the Heritage Foundation, they were trained in the state of Virginia, at the naval base in Little Creek. And in September, Washington provided them with an unnamed number of drones. Which ones, too, was not reported. But the Heritage Foundation concluded that, most likely, these were MANTAS in the T-12 modification.
In total, there are about eight variants of the MANTAS drone. T-12 is one of the last. It was first shown in 2018 at the National Symposium of the US Naval Institute Surface Fleet Association. The device had a length of 3.6 meters, a width of 0.9 meters, a height of less than half a meter, and a draft of 18 centimeters. The maximum weight of the drone is 95 kilograms, the combat load is about 64 kilograms.
The maximum wave at sea, in which the boat does not lose its seaworthiness, is up to four points. The declared cruising range exceeds 220 kilometers, and the maximum speed is 40 knots. The engine is electric, powered by batteries from the American company Oakridge Global Energy Solutions.
Mantas T-12 is controlled from a special station via cellular networks. The station can be located on a ship or ashore and is capable of simultaneously controlling several devices.
The Ukrainian media deny the American origin of the drones, citing their external dissimilarity and differences in characteristics as evidence. The Ukrainian drone, according to them, is larger - 5.5 meters and can swim about 800 kilometers, which means the engine is not electric. With the weight of the payload, there is no confusion at all. According to some information, the boat can carry up to 200 kilograms, and according to others - almost a ton.
But no matter how many explosives the Ukrainian military has loaded, these firewalls certainly pose a serious threat, if, moreover, they are equipped with tried and tested control systems. Such as on American MANTAS.