The Fiat Fullback 4X4 trucks, donated by the Come Back Alive foundation, are being paired with Mistral man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) contributed by Norway. The result is an elusive and mobile anti-aircraft battery that is helping Ukraine neutralize the air advantage Russia has wielded since beginning its invasion in late February.
“They are destroying enemy drones and helicopters, and in the future, they will also cover the Russian fighter jets,” Andriy Rymaruk, head of the foundation’s military department wrote in a Facebook post. “They are working, in particular, with Stingers and 9K38 Igla systems. And this kind of work really needs mobility. That’s why we are donating new, not used, vehicles to those groups. These vehicles are serviceable and fast, and could assist in hitting the moving targets.”
I think this is the first photo that show a FIAT Fullback 4×4 pick-up (about fifty arrived in Ukraine last week), operative as mobile platform for MANPADS operators. In this case ukrainian solider is equipped with FIM92 Stinger.
📸: Тарас Чмут. pic.twitter.com/f4CltpIsNG
— Ciro Nappi (@CiroNappi6) April 22, 2022
The Come Back Alive foundation was established by by Vitaliy Deyneg in 2014, after Russia invaded Crimea and began taking aggressive action in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. Amid the ongoing invasion, the crowd-funded non-governmental organization has been providing bulletproof vests, thermal optic technology and other equipment to Ukraine’s fighters, according to TheDrive.com.
Norway has sent at least 100 of the Mistral missiles and an unknown number of launchers to Ukraine. The systems, built by European weapons maker MBDA, are heat-seeking, short-range missiles capable of bringing down everything from unmanned drones to fixed-wing aircraft. By installing the MANPADS in the beds of the donated pickup trucks, the Ukrainian military has hit on an ingenious – and relatively cheap – Surface-to-Air Missile system.
Valery Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, claims the Mistrals have helped bring down 20 Russian Unmanned Aerial Vehicles worth a total of $20 million. Photos posted by the Come Back Alive foundation show Fiat Fullbacks with the foundation’s logo on their hoods toting the Mistral MANPADS launchers under camouflage netting.
By donating only the pickup trucks, the foundation stays true to its pledge to not use donations to buy weapons.
“Our mission is limited to supplying technology, trainings, and accouterments to help save lives of Ukrainians and help our warriors defend Ukraine,” the foundation declares on its website.
Since 2014, the foundation claims to have provided 1,000 thermal imagers, over 250 UAVs and 1,500 tablets to Ukraine for its ongoing defense against Russian aggression. It also provides training for medical workers, snipers, minesweepers, and defense analysts.
European officials estimate that Russia has lost as many as 20,000 soldiers in the three-month-long war, with some 30,000 wounded. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in mid-April that 3,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed since the invasion began.
More than 30 countries have sent military aid including guns and ammunition, missiles, attack drones, and artillery to Ukraine since the war broke out. The United States has provided more than $3 billion worth of military aid and sold another $165 million in weapons to Kyiv.