Ukraine wants to gain drone superiority over Russia. It will build up to a million of its own UAVs capable of hitting Moscow

 25. 02. 2024      Category: Air force

Ukraine plans to produce its own long-range drones this year, capable of hitting targets deep in the Russian interior - including Moscow or St. Petersburg. Over the next year, Kiev plans to produce up to a million of them, and reports that 10 different companies are already involved in the effort. The news comes at a time of intensified Russian-Ukrainian drone attacks. At the same time, international partners have announced the formation of a coalition to support these efforts.

Picture: Ukraine wants to gain drone superiority over Russia | Shutterstock
Picture: Ukraine wants to gain drone superiority over Russia | Shutterstock

In recent days, the Russians have again shelled Ukrainian cities, including civilian targets, using mainly Iranian Shahid suicide drones. Once again, civilians have died, despite the increasingly sophisticated air defences supplied by the West, which are still not enough. On the aggressor's territory, on the other hand, thanks to Ukrainian drone attacks, oil refineries and other strategic infrastructure needed to fuel the war machine were again burned. Kiev has long claimed responsibility for these strikes across the border, claiming that it wants to raise the proverbial hell on the territory of the occupiers. In this context, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov recently unveiled a bold plan - the mass production of its own long-range drones directly designed to destroy Russian targets far behind the front lines.

"The category of long-range suicide drones with a range of 300, 500, 700 and 1,000 kilometers is growing. Two years ago this category did not all," Fedorov told Reuters. His ministry has now set a target of producing up to one million such drones this year, which can strike in the capital Moscow and even as far away as the remote northwestern city of St Petersburg. The government's deregulation of the drone market, as well as increasing grants and state funding, are supposed to help.

Already last year, the government's BRAVE1 initiative was established, through which about $2.5 million, or nearly 60 million crowns, has already been allocated to companies for the production of aerial drones through grants. This year, this amount is expected to increase roughly tenfold. "We have eliminated taxes on drone parts, simplified the contracting and decommissioning process," explains Mykhailo Fedorov of the process. "In other words, we removed all the obstacles that companies in the private sector were facing, and within six months we solved them by passing all the necessary laws and resolutions."

At the same time, Ukraine has begun training up to 20,000 drone operators to learn how to operate first-person view (FPV) drones using remote control. This kind of training is already provided by 20 specialized facilities. "In December alone, drone deliveries were 50 times higher than in the whole of 2022. Just imagine, the system was not prepared for this and I think even the logistics support did not realise that such volumes were possible," Fedorov told Reuters.

Efforts by Ukrainian defenders to increase their own production of aerial drones go hand in hand with Western aid. In mid-February, for example, the UK announced the delivery of thousands more drones as part of an international effort coordinated with Latvia. "Together, we will provide Ukraine with the capabilities it needs to defend itself and win this war to ensure that Putin fails in his illicit and barbaric ambitions," British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps wrote in a statement ahead of the latest Brussels summit and Munich Security Conference.

"This is a milestone on the road to achieving technological superiority over our enemy. The mass production and delivery of drones will significantly expand the capabilities of our armed forces," Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov commented, according to Ukrainska Pravda, while calling on all allied countries to join the initiative, which he called the International Drone Coalition.

According to military analysts, Ukraine's drone production before the end of last year was 50,000 units per month. However, the lifespan of these drones is very short, with possibly explosive results on the shells of Russian war machines or critical infrastructure. The price of one manufactured UAV in Ukraine has been squeezed by local manufacturers to a few thousand crowns. The squadron of FPV drones is then complemented by water-based UAVs such as the Maritime Autonomous Guard Unmanned Robotic Apparatus V-type, or Magura V5. These are considerably more expensive machines with more space for charges, specifically up to 320 kilograms. These drones have already successfully destroyed several large Russian military vessels. The Ukrainians would like to see more mass production of these effective drones in the future as well.

 Author: Oliver Jahn