Ukraine's domestic drones: A new era in the Ukrainian-Russian warfare reaches Moscow and St. Petersburg
Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, both sides have utilized drones. Initially, Russia held a major advantage in this technology, but the tide seems to be turning. Dependent on Western aid for arms, the Ukrainian government has shifted its focus towards technological advancement, yielding significant results so far.
The Ukrainians have begun equipping themselves with naval drones, posing a real threat to the Black Sea Fleet. They are also gradually gaining aerial superiority, not due to F-16s they're still awaiting, but through domestically produced drones.
By 2024, Ukraine plans to produce a million FPV drones (which is over 100 times more than that produced in 2022). These drones could be used as circling ammunition with explosives or for example, a hooked grenade, preparing to cause significant damage to Russian equipment and personnel. Additionally, these relatively inexpensive combat drones could compensate for the dearth of pricey artillery rounds.
Ukrainian companies, predominantly small private enterprises, manufacture not just simplistic drones with a range suitable for front line attacks but also ones capable of attacking distant targets in Russia, as loudly proclaimed in recent months.
'Thousands of such drones will be produced'
"The catalog of long-range kamikaze drones is expanding, boasting ranges of 186, 311, 435, and 621 miles. Only two years ago, this category was non-existent," Ukraine's Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, told Reuters.
Fedorov stated that Ukraine will manufacture thousands of long-range drones in 2024, capable of deep attacks on Russia. Currently, there are up to 10 companies producing drones capable of reaching St. Petersburg and Moscow, he added. Notably, only one of these companies is state-owned.
Fedorov revealed that approximately $2.5 million has been allocated for startups working on military technologies via the BRAVE1 initiative. This was established by the government last year, and in 2024, the allocation will increase nearly tenfold. "We will push for an even greater funding increase," Fedorov added.
Fedorov concurred with Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, that Kyiv has achieved 'a kind of equality' with Moscow in long-range drone production.
"We must take an anti-bureaucratic approach. This is vital to a breakthrough in the tech war. Our focus will continue to be in this direction. Technology can indeed save us," Fedorov emphasized, acknowledging the shortfall of artillery rounds that the Ukrainian army is currently encountering.
"Last year, we received orders for over 300,000 drones of various types, with over 100,000 dispatched to the front," Fedorov cited. He added that these figures don't account for the supplies from volunteers, which provide a “significant contribution."
Since the initiation of the military training subsidy program in 2023, Ukraine has trained 20,000 drone operators in 20 private schools, according to Fedorov. "We provide funding for every soldier that attends these schools. Our plan now is to upgrade this to a broader state program, along with modernizing several training centers to ensure they operate at a high level," the minister announced.
Sources: reuters.com, unian.ua