Ukraine's drones are not as effective as they were before as Russia steps up its air defense
Ukrainian drones that were the apple of everyone's eye during the ongoing conflict with Russia have begun to fizzle out after Kremlin has organized its defenses and stepped up electronic warfare, Business Insider reported.
When Russia launched its multi-pronged attack on Ukrainian territory in February this year, little did it expect that the resistance to its aggression would be channeled through uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.
We previously reported how the U.S. government was supplying Switchblade drones as part of its military package to Ukraine. Turkey also shipped 50 Bayraktar TB2 drones after the conflict began, Business Insider reported. In addition to these, Ukraine's aerospace industry also provided hundreds of drones to the cause. You can now find scores of videos on the internet where Ukrainian forces have decimated Russian attacks with these drones.
The tide has turned
Last week, we saw an alleged Ukrainian kamikaze drone attack an oil refinery within the Russian border. At that time, it appeared that Ukraine was looking to go on the offense now. Ukrainian forces may have pushed Russian troops away from the capital city of Kyiv. Still, as Russia concentrates its efforts in the east, its strengths also appear to have come together.
Speaking to Business Insider, experts said that it could be possible that Russia has learned from the humiliation it received for attack strategies and has put in place mechanisms to counter the drones. These include using early warning systems to spot the drones and electronic warfare systems to disrupt or jam their communication.
On the move, Russia was slow to set up its air defenses in the earlier months of the attack but, in recent times, has managed to put them to work together, resulting in a combined arms operation. Instead of dispersed attack units, Russian forces are now working together with armor, infantry, recon, air defense, and engineers, all working together, an expert told BI.
It also helps that Russian air defense consists mainly of short and medium-range missiles, which work very well for drones that fly slowly and at low altitudes.
What does it mean for the Ukrainian strategy?
Back in May, we also reported that Russian claimed it was using a novel laser weapon to counter Ukrainian drones, which the Ukrainian officials had laughed off. However, in just a little over a month, Ukraine's highly effective strategy seems to have blunted off.
This has called for a change in approach from Ukrainian forces that have now rejected the U.S. offers for General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones. Costing about $10 million apiece, Ukrainian Air Force pilots are concerned that these drones may be shot down by now superior Russian air defense on their very first mission, The War Zone reported. Instead, Ukraine is currently seeking more advanced fighter jets from its Western allies.
In the meantime, Russian drones continue to remain in the air for a wide variety of purposes. With Ukraine not possessing the capability of air defense systems, this further strengthens Russia's position, which can see Ukrainian activity from the skies and better plan its attacks.