How Drones Are Being Used in the Russian-Ukraine War

As the Russian-Ukrainian war continues in Eastern Europe, footage of drones in Ukraine has made its way across social media.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 23. Many were unsure about Ukraine’s smaller military being able to defend their country. However, the conflict has lasted more than a month now and Ukraine shows no signs of backing down.

How are they doing it? Drones.

What drones is Ukraine using?

Ukraine is using TB-2 drones. These seem to be their strongest weapon against the Russians.

The opposition quickly threw back the Russian forces at the start of the invasion. They seemed ill-prepared for the attack. The TB-2s are not only a powerhouse of a weapon, they are creating a psychological reaction in Russian soldiers.

The weapons are causing Russians to turn and flee, rather than advance, once they see the first vehicles in their battalion destroyed. Ground forces have recorded TB-2 strikes from Kherson to Kyiv’s suburbs.

This leads many to believe Ukraine is flying the latest version. These weapons feature satellite communications capability and access to the Turksat satellite system. Russia claims to have taken down several of the TB-2 drones. However, Ukraine has an inventory of these weapons…with more on the way.

The Ukrainian forces were also able to use their TB-2s for close-air support and reconnaissance once the Russian air defense halted.

Aside from the obvious war aspects of drone use in Ukraine, drones are also being used to report the news. Remote devices are being used for photography and to document the war in general. Drone shots such as this one show the Ukrainian people fleeing as the war began.

Where are these weapons coming from?

The TB-2s Ukraine is using are Turkish-made and were first acquired in July 2021.

However, it’s alleged that Turkey is sending new shipments of drones for Kyiv to continue their strikes against the Russians as their invasion continues. Early in March, Turkey and Ukraine signed a deal to expand the production capabilities of Baykar — a Turkish drone-maker — in Ukraine.

These propeller-driven drones have a 40-foot span and weigh approximately 1,400 pounds. They carry laser-guided Smart Micro Munition missiles, called “MAMs.”

Ukraine’s Turkish embassy said strikes are revenge for the Baylun attack. That attack caused 364 deaths — the largest number of deaths in the Turkish Army on foreign soil since the Cyprus military operation of 1974.

Turkey is providing newer systems to the Ukrainian forces. However, the specifications remain unknown.

Some of the newer UAVs are able to withstand electronic attacks, making them even more powerful. When Russian forces try to block or jam a signal, the drones are able to switch to an available frequency to continue. If that signal does not work, the drone can operate autonomously. It hovers until the connection can be safely re-established. After that, the drone can continue to fly.

Where are Russia’s drones?

The focus on and success of Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicles has been widely shown. News outlets and social media are providing ongoing coverage. However, there has been very little discussion on Russian AUVs. Many are asking if the Russians are even using this technology.

The Russians are using drones…so why aren’t we seeing them? There are a few possibilities.

Ukraine’s electronic warfare networks and air defense are still intact. This makes it difficult for Russia to use its drones.

Additionally, Russia only recently received clearance by the defense ministry to use larger, more capable weapons. It has therefore only been using its smaller UAVs. These smaller UAVs are harder to capture on camera. Soldiers can launch these smaller models by hand when necessary. They are virtually invisible once they reach an altitude in excess of 5,200 feet. Russian forces are also using “loitering drones” for their attacks.

Ukraine will soon follow suit, as the U.S. government has recently announced they will send 100 Switchblade loitering drones to help the Ukrainian forces in combat. The effectiveness of Switchblade loitering drones is already clear. In the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war, both Azerbaijan and Armenia used these drones.

The Ukrainian forces are holding their own and will continue to cause serious damage with their drones as Russia continues to attack the country.

Shari Tingle

Shari Tingle is a South Carolina-based freelance copy and content marketing writer. Shari is excited about writing content that is easily digestible and strives to bring sparkle and personality to news, business, and entertainment articles across industries. You can find her on LinkedIn.

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