Russian military forces have turned to an unconventional solution, employing a Cold War-era Beriev Be-12 ‘Mail’ amphibious flying boat to patrol and monitor the waters surrounding the occupied Crimean peninsula.
The purpose seems to primarily target the identification and potential elimination of Ukrainian overwater drone boats, a growing concern for Russian naval assets.
The Beriev Be-12, developed in the 1950s, is used to prove effective in detecting small, low-profile, and highly maneuverable craft like the Ukrainian kamikaze drone boats. Deployed as a means of safeguarding the Black Sea Fleet, this veteran amphibious aircraft has emerged as a new asset for Russia to counter the perceived maritime threat posed by Ukrainian drone boats.
These inexpensive yet potentially explosive maritime drones have posed a significant challenge for Russia, prompting efforts to employ helicopters and fighter jets for detection and neutralization. However, the Be-12’s moderate flight speed, prolonged airborne capability, and specialized bomb bay have proven more suited for these missions, potentially allowing it to strike identified drones.
The Beriev Be-12 is a Soviet-era turboprop aircraft designed in the 1950s and first flown in 1960. Capable of taking off from both land and water, the Be-12 was crafted for short-range anti-submarine and maritime patrol missions. Outfitted with radar, magnetic anomaly detectors, hydroacoustic buoys, and equipped to carry torpedoes and mines, it primarily operates in maritime surveillance.
Typically crewed by four personnel—two pilots, a navigator, and a radio operator and sensor operator—the Be-12 can reach speeds of almost 330 miles per hour and fly at an altitude of about 10,000 feet.