Ukraine, war in Ukraine | Drones are crucial for Ukraine in the war against Russia

Ukraine, war in Ukraine |  Drones are crucial for Ukraine in the war against Russia

These small unmanned units have become an important part of the arsenal of Ukrainian and Russian forces. They are used everywhere on the front lines to detect enemy positions and drop explosives with great accuracy.

They are also used as rocket bombs that hit enemy targets.

– Compared to the first phase of the war, we have made tremendous progress, says 24-year-old Igor to AFP. It is on the front line, not far from the city of Bakhmut. Nearby, soldiers set up two small masts to amplify the drones’ signals and thus increase their destructive power.

-The efficiency of the drone pilot has improved a lot. We can fly farther and use ammunition more accurately.

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Inside the drone

Igor’s drone has four propellers and is equipped with a camera on the front. Using a special headset, he is inside the drone and can see everything the drone captures. Either the drone drops its payload, preferably grenades, and is recovered for a new mission, or it is directed at a ground target and explodes.

A number of different types of drones are used, depending on the mission. Some of them engage in exclusive reconnaissance missions to follow enemy movements in the front and rear areas.

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Still others are pure attack drones and are sent out after assimilating information and identifying targets. Information from drones is also used to control artillery and tanks, as well as direct the advance of units on the ground. The army is also using eight-rotor drones to drop anti-tank mines containing six kilograms of explosives.

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Frontline departments are becoming increasingly reliant on drone operations, but concerns about their effectiveness are growing accordingly.

– Drones are the eyes of our forces, says Mykhailo Fedorov to Agence France-Presse. He is the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukrainian Society.

Race against Russia

The scale of the drone war has sparked an arms race between the military authorities in Kiev and Moscow. Last year, the Ukrainian government launched the Drone Army project through a special financing platform to purchase drones, train operators and ensure repair capabilities.

Fedorov says that 200 drone manufacturers have participated in the project.

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– Last year, there were only seven different drones in use at the front. There are now about 50 different models built in Ukraine. And more and more are coming. Simple drones with a camera and operator vision cost a few hundred dollars, but can cause millions of dollars in damage when controlled by a skilled operator, the digitalization minister says.

On the Ukrainian side, it is said that they need between 100,000 and 120,000 drones per month. Drones are consumables and are widely shot down or directed at targets.

Fedorov particularly highlights the effectiveness of naval drones, which have been used with “excellent” results against Russian ships in the Black Sea.

Drone factory

In the basement of a house near Bakhmut, a team of specialists led by a 27-year-old commander named Banderas runs a workshop in which civilian drones of Chinese origin are modified for military use.

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They are modifying civilian drones so that they can be used with Ukrainian equipment such as antennas and receivers. More powerful batteries are being introduced, increasing the range to 18 kilometres.

The basement also contains an ammunition depot for RPG-7 grenade launchers, a model of Russian origin that is produced today in several versions in many countries. They are hand grenades that weigh one kilogram and can penetrate 50 centimeters of armor. Grenades are attached to the bottom of the drones, which are then sent towards the front when attacked.

Banderas says they lose about a third of their drones, either by being shot down by the enemy, or by being paralyzed by enemy electronic signals and falling to the ground. The Ukrainian military has created a special electronic warfare unit to better defend itself against Russian tactical attack drones.

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Artificial intelligence defense

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense recently approved an AI-based system from the Ukrainian company Saker Scout. The system relies on advanced algorithms and optics that recognize and store the coordinates of enemy equipment, even if it is camouflaged.

This information is immediately sent to the command center, which then designs the attack accordingly, the ministry stated.

– This eliminates the risk of human error. The MoD’s message about the new AI-based system says the operator’s eye can’t always pick up all the nuances.

For the military leadership, of which Fedorov is a part, it is not possible to overestimate the importance of drones on the battlefield.

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-This war will be won thanks to drones. He says that Ukraine is doing everything possible, and everything impossible, to achieve success.

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(© NTB)

Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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