TechRussia to dominate drone market by 2030, overshadowing Ukraine despite sanctions

Russia to dominate drone market by 2030, overshadowing Ukraine despite sanctions

The Shahed 136 drones used by Russia
The Shahed 136 drones used by Russia
Images source: © ANA
9:14 AM EST, January 26, 2024

Yuriy Fedorenko, a Ukrainian military officer from the 92nd Mechanized Brigade of Combat Drones, claims that currently, there are "seven Russian drones for every Ukrainian." Despite sanctions on Moscow, Russia is successfully enhancing its military equipment production. This upturn is visible not only at thriving factories where tanks are produced but also in drone manufacturing facilities.

Russia is actively increasing drone production. Models like the Orion, Eleron-3, Orłan-10, and Lancet are currently in production. Moreover, Russia intends to establish drone factories in the Middle East.

The drone war persists

The EurAsian Times reports Moscow, in partnership with Tehran, "recently concluded the construction of a drone factory in Tatarstan, 500 miles east of Moscow". It predicts that by mid-2025, Russia could manufacture about 6,000 prototypes of the Shahed-136, currently sourced from Iran.

Prof. Vladimir Ponomarev from the Institute of International Security and Development, a Russian oppositionist and former minister in the Russian Federation government, argued in an interview with WP Tech that "sanctions on Russia haven't yielded the expected results" and that they do "not impede Putin from engaging in war". As he added, last year, "Russia earned more money from oil and gas sales than in the year before the outbreak of the Ukrainian war".

The expert also noticed that despite constraints, Russia doesn't have significant issues sourcing the components necessary for seamless military equipment production. "Vital components for weapon production are obtained through smuggling, which remains unhindered, albeit at increased prices. Essentially, all components for Putin's advanced weapon production are smuggled from the West, along with deliveries from China and, for instance, missiles from North Korea. While these items may be outdated, their sheer volume proves a significant aid," he elaborated.

The drones vary in propulsion, explosive load-carrying capabilities, and range. Some can cover over 621 miles while staying virtually undetectable to the enemy. This is evident from the increasingly frequent attacks on Russian territory. Ukrainians are also purchasing FPV (first-person view) commercial drones in large numbers, which they modify into highly potent kamikaze machines.

The war in Ukraine, often referred to as the drone war today, showcases the significance of these devices on the battlefield. With the introduction of new models and the accumulation of experience, Russian and Ukrainian tactics in drone utilization have evolved. For example, the latter, following the first phase of the war, where their reliance was heavily on larger drones like Bayraktar TB2, realized the potential of smaller machines. These are more affordable and play multiple roles, including reconnaissance, combat, or directing artillery fire.

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