Ukraine has a silent but deadly new weapon in its arsenal: electric combat kayaks
Over a year and a half into a defensive war against a Russian invasion, necessity has forced Ukraine to be extremely creative in the face of the enemy’s larger collection of war materiel.
In the past, that has included electric bicycles custom outfitted with anti-tank middles, and now we’re getting our first look at the Ukrainian forces’ newest maritime asset. Known as the Poloz-M16, these combat kayaks are produced locally by Ukrainian defense company Adamant Verf.
“Poloz-M16 is similar to what the American and British soldiers have been using, but it’s ten times cheaper, around US $2,500 per item,” Adamant Verf’s CEO, Serhiy Ostaschenko, explained to ABC News.
These combat kayaks are powered by paddles or a small electric trolling motor, helping them operate undetected. The motor can also be controlled remotely, which allows the kayak to operate similarly to a marine drone.
The Poloz-M16 kayak can carry up to three soldiers, or up to 250 kg (550 pounds) of payload, and is outfitted with a Ukrainian-produced NATO-type UAG-40 automatic-fire grenade launcher mounted on the kayak’s bow.
The weapon can fire a projectile 2 km (1.2 miles) and includes a special mechanism that absorbs the automatic weapon’s recoil, keeping the kayak stable on the water.
The electric kayaks are uniquely effective for Ukraine, which, in addition to having two seas, is also home to over 3,000 rivers.
The kayak isn’t designed for assault roles but rather for covert missions by Ukrainian special operations forces, who first approached Ostaschenko with the request for a vessel to fit the job.
“Our Poloz is not afraid of any bulletproof speed boat. It can hide in the reeds and fire at the enemy like in a shooting range,” Ostashenko said.
And the Poloz-M16 already comes battle-tested. While most of its operations are undoubtedly classified, one mission in October last year saw Ukrainian soldiers use the Poloz-M16 on the Oskil River in the Kharkiv region. The soldiers conducted nighttime reconnaissance near Russian positions on the riverbank, transporting explosives and ultimately securing the passage of an assault group that forced Russian forces to retreat a dozen kilometers to the east.