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Experts explained why drones could not change the course of the war in Ukraine

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Drones play an important role, but don’t underestimate the importance of artillery and anti-tank missiles.

Soldiers successfully use drones during the war in Ukraine, but the effectiveness of UAVs as a technology is not high enough yet. Seth Franzman, executive director of the Center for Middle East Reporting and Analysis, wrote about this in The Hill.

In the past few decades, there has been a lot of talk about how drones will “change lives” for humanity, from delivering pizza to destroying enemy forces on the battlefield with a swarm of drones. The war in Ukraine showed what happens when both sides have drones, because this was not the case before: countries with such technologies are mostly devoted to insurgents, terrorists, ie. less “advanced” opponents (remember the US campaign in Afghanistan).

Frantsman pointed out that there were frequent reports of how Turkish-made Bayraktar drones successfully attacked the Russian Armed Forces at the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukrainian territory, but recently such reports have been much less frequent. According to the expert, the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not use these drones near the front line in the Donbass or the missile supply has dried up. Drone warfare is often waged in secret from the public, and the military doesn’t want to talk about situations where their equipment isn’t performing well.

“Western countries want to supply weapons to Ukraine, and there are various drones on the list, including the American-made Switchblade type kamikaze drones. Their appearance on the battlefield in the near future will not change the situation,” the author said.

According to him, traditional weapons such as artillery systems continue to play an important role in modern warfare. Having only a few advanced and expensive UAVs, the Ukrainian army has to use them carefully, as it is very difficult to replace the downed UAVs.

“The age of drones has not yet come, because the countries that use them are often not enough for them or they are afraid of losing in the war. In the conflicts in which they are used, for example in Libya, they have not changed the course. Despite their widespread use, drones have not stopped the Taliban in Afghanistan,” said Franzman.

Some blame countries’ political leadership for not allowing operators to successfully use drones. As the expert explains, the current restrictions are primarily related to the equipment supply and the complexity of the operation. Large-scale wars will require large numbers of UAVs, so armies may lose some without too much damage.

“The whole point of drones is that they can be used specifically for routine or dangerous missions where the country doesn’t want to risk sacrificing pilots,” the author summarized.

Aude Thomas, of the French Foundation for Strategic Research, said in a comment to the France 24 TV channel: Drones, especially military-grade ones, have proven that they can replace aviation in battles with a less wealthy enemy. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, have developed several new approaches to using these technologies, such as using civilian drones for reconnaissance, artillery fire or bombing.

The specialist noted the public enterprise Aerorazvedka, where engineers and developers are working to replace drones for military purposes. According to Od Thomas, today they assemble their own combat vehicles, equip them with anti-tank grenades and send them to the battlefield under the control of 50 operator crews.

In early June, the United States promised to transfer four major American Gray Eagle aircraft, worth $10 million each, to Ukraine, but deliveries were halted due to fears that the Russians might shoot them down and seize the stealth technology. These drones communicate with the operator at a distance of eight kilometers and can be shot down after only 1-2 sorties. According to foreign policy analyst Jack Detch, Russian S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft guns can hit “eagles” in the Donbass. Therefore, there is now a heated debate between the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the military at the front about whether it is worth limiting drone launches to 30 pieces per day.

Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution in Washington DC argues that drones are important but lack tactical intelligence. Compared to anti-tank installations such as the Javelin, their contribution to the defense of Kiev is likely to be overestimated. Michael O’Hanlon believes the rules of war will fundamentally change UAVs capable of carrying heavy payloads but small enough to operate without a runway.

Previously, experts from Aerorazvedka showed how the Russian troops were destroyed. According to Lieutenant Colonel Yaroslav Gonchar, although the Russian Armed Forces outnumber the defenders of Ukraine in numbers and weapons, small devices accurately throw grenades at enemy equipment and cause great damage.

Source: Riafan

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