Kamikaze vs. Navy: The decisive drone battle between Ukraine and Russia

“It’s an unprecedented case of a country with a large navy losing a naval battle against a country that doesn’t even have a navy,” says the military analyst Oleksandr Kovalenko to LA RAZÓN from the coastal city of Odessa in Ukraine. At the beginning of the invasion, the city was attacked by cannons of Russian warships that moved freely near the city. Almost a year and a half later The Russian ships Not only do they not dare to approach the coast, but You don’t feel safe in the Black Sea. either in its naval bases in occupied Crimea or in the Russian city Novorossiysk, hundreds of kilometers away. All because of the progress that Ukraine has made in the development and use of sea drones.

Last month, Ukrainian drones damaged the Kerch Bridge, which connects Crimea to Russia, a large Russian landing craft in Novorossiysk and a tanker carrying fuel for its bombers in Syria and Ukraine. Although the technical characteristics of the drones are unknown, the country’s security service has released some details publicly, such as: the ability to travel beyond 800 kilometers and at least take on board 850 kg of explosives. It has also recognized its usefulness. “It should be understood that way an ultimatum to the Russian Black Sea Fleet», Kovalenko believes. According to the expert, the danger from drones will increase, so Russia may decide to move the most valuable of its ships from the Black Sea.

It is not clear how many drones Ukraine is currently producing, but is able to “act more precisely and professionally than the Russians,” says the expert. “While Russia is massively using its Kamikaze Shahed drones as a terror element, we use maritime drones exclusively to destroy relevant targets.” All targets are linked to the Russian army in one way or another, either directly involved in its logistics or critical to it evasion of sanctions.

It’s still a duel. Russia tries to protect its fleet by creating physical barriers on their foundations and Reinforce its radio-electronic warfare capabilities to prevent drones from being controlled remotely. However, the expert adds that drones are likely to undergo constant evolution in terms of their speed, stability and ability to withstand interference from Moscow, as well as their ever-improving navigation and control.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s advances are not just limited to maritime drones. They happen more often Drone attacks in central Moscow, one of the reputedly best-protected cities in Russia. Kovalenko emphasizes that the targets attacked are also directly related to the Russian war effort, such as the attack on various ministries in late July. “They also remind Muscovites that war is imminent,” notes Kovalenko. «The Russians should feel what war is like.. They cannot ignore what is happening or has happened where Mariupol, Popasna, Bakhmut and dozens of other places in Ukraine were destroyed by their army.”

attacks in Moscow

Despite the increasing number of long-range drone strikes, which have never been explicitly acknowledged by the Ukrainian authorities, Ukraine and Russia are still vying for supremacy in the drone battle. “His role is huge. They can scout enemy positions, adjust artillery fire, drop grenades on the enemy and be used to hit valuable targets,” explains Kovalenko. Dozens of units were created in the Ukrainian army solely for the purpose of employment fast and agile FPV drones. Led by a bespectacled pilot showing the drone camera image, they can reach the enemy in minutes and for about $400 a piece destroy tanks or other sophisticated equipment worth millions of dollars. There are numerous videos on the Internet showing how small drones with explosives hit Russian vehicles, trenches, equipment and buildings.

“Your role is fundamental because If we lack drones, humans must attack and there is a risk of being killed or injured. And we have fewer soldiers than Russia,” explains Lyubov Zhypovich of the Dignitas Foundation, which helps Ukrainian drone manufacturers. Shypovych warns that while Ukraine is rushing to ramp up its drone production from the current 20,000 to the 200,000 it needs each month, it is still dependent on China, which is politically closer to Russia, where most critical parts are produced become. Russia currently manufactures more drones than Ukraine. At best, the invaded country has as many drones as the invader or fewer at different points along the front line, Shhypovych and Kovalenko note.

Another problem is that Russia currently has superior means of electronic warfare on the battlefield. This means more and more drones are failing to reach their destinations because their pilots are losing control.

“If one in ten of our drones reaches its target, fulfills its combat mission, that’s done,” says Kovalenko.

Under such conditions, Ukraine and its allies would have no choice but not only to rapidly increase the production of drones, but also to work on their technological advances and their ability to counter Russian radio-electronic defenses, Shypovych emphasizes.

While many factors influence the outcome of the war, Ukraine cannot afford to lose the drone competition. Gaining a technological edge can be crucial when defending against a much larger country.

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