Video footage of what appears to be a strike on Russian soldiers by an unidentified weapon has been viewed more than one million times online.
In the clip circulating on Twitter, soldiers can be seen walking across fields, some visibly injured, before being struck by a weapon or projectile.
The caption described a “death ray,” and prompted speculation online around the weaponry shown in the video snippet.
Destruction of Russians with a death ray pic.twitter.com/VSJQF71fed— Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) January 30, 2023
Some Twitter users, including the uploader, suggested the footage could show a Stugna-P, a Ukrainian anti-tank guided missile weapon system. The Stugna-P, also known by the name of its export verson, “Skif,” is designed to destroy armored targets and helicopters, according to its manufacturer.
The Stugna-P, travelling at 200 meters a second, has a maximum range of just over three miles, and Ukrainian forces have say they have shot down Russian helicopters on several occasions using the missile system.
Military technology expert David Hambling told Newsweek that the video appeared to show an explosively formed projectile (EFP), that is a “variant of a shaped charge which fires a slug of metal at high speed.”
They are identifiable by the “distinctive smoke trail” they leave in the air, he added, and are often used as anti-armor weapons.
But looking closely at the pattern and the fact that “the smoke trail seems to lead away from the explosion,” Hambling argued, could indicate that it may have been a shaped charge, such as a HEAT warhead, that “may well be delivered by a Stugna.”
He continued: “I’ve seen similar smoke trails left by the HEAT warheads on Russian Lancet loitering munitions.”
The Stugna-P is a “relatively low-cost” system, which, unlike Javelin anti-tank missiles, can be deployed by Ukrainian forces against groups of infantry, Hambling said.
“There is specific anti-personnel ammunition for the Stugna with more blast effect, but this may not be available and operators use what they have to hand,” he argued.
Ret. Col. Mark F. Cancian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank said he could not be certain in an identification of the weapon shown in the video, but “it’s precise and fires rapidly.”
He said the video indicates someone is observing and tracking the target, then eliminated artillery as a possible explanation for what can be seen in the video footage because the angle of attack is too low.
“Also, the attacks appeared to come from different directions,” he added, before discounting a mine as being responsible for what can be seen in the video because of the smoke trail.
It may be some form of drone that fires a rocket after approaching its target, he suggested.
That’s what I call a very direct hit! Nice to see disintegrated cockroaches! Well done, AFU!