KYIV, UKRAINE — The expected Ukrainian offensive in April-May will include not only Leopard tanks but also drones in large numbers. Mr. Mykhailo Fedorov, who is the Deputy Prime Minister for Innovations, Development of Education, Science & Technologies showed a photo of 300 Mavic 3T drones already delivered for service to the Ukrainian army.
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Mr. Fedorov says the drones are already in service in Donbas, Zaporizhia, and Kherson. All of them are equipped with thermal cameras with a zoom function and are ready to “detect & destroy Russian hardware.”
In fact, the news may come as a surprise to some, but in recent weeks, Ukraine has heavily activated drone attacks against Russian hardware. This is evidenced not only by pro-Ukrainian but confirmation by pro-Russian Telegram accounts. A spike in drone use is being seen, meaning the drone war is heating up in Ukraine.
However, a change in the battlefield is not noticeable, because if Ukrainian forces use drones for suicide missions, or blow up Russian hardware by dropping bombs, so do Russian forces. Just now, both sides have stepped up the drone presence on the front, which had quieted down until a week or two ago.
Funding from the West
Ukraine receives funding from the West and this helps the Ukrainians acquire similar civilian drones that they can easily convert into military ones. The same thing happens on the other side of the barrier. Russia has already presented a new variant of the Orlan-10, hoping this time to be more successful than the first variant, which suffered a total fiasco at the front and was one of the most frequently shot-down Russian drones. Moskit and Lancet-3 are the new drones that Moscow will throw in Ukraine, but it is not clear how many of them the Russians have.
2-3 times more Ukrainian attacks
However, the fact is that drone attacks are becoming more frequent. This is also what the former officer of the Luhansk People’s Republic [LPR] Lt. Col. Andrey Marchko says. He confirms that in the zone of the Second Army Corps of the Russian Federation located in the conflict zone, the Ukrainians have increased drone attacks. According to him, the increase is 2-3 times. He explains this with the Western financing of Ukraine and the favorable weather conditions at the moment.
Mortar ammunition is being carried by drones, Marchko says. They are carried by various Ukrainian drones – both small in size and heavy hexacopters.
Ukraine has widely used civilian and recreational UAVs against Russian soldiers, retrofitting them with basic release mechanisms and dropping grenades on trenches and inside open hatches of tanks and armored vehicles.
Dozens of popular videos show Russian soldiers being surprised when the small bombs are modified with fins for stability and ensure they land next to them.
Ukraine’s spring offensive will likely include heavier pickup-borne drones. There are such photos that are distributed in pro-Ukrainian Telegram accounts. According to some of the claims of these accounts, a significant number of these drones are Ukrainian-made.
Both Ukrainians and Russians use civilian drones. BulgarianMilitary.com reported on the delivery of Chinese DJI drones to the Russian army. Drones are civilian and can easily be bought online. If there is a ban on buying from the territory of the Russian Federation, drones can be bought from third countries and delivered directly to the front.
There are reports from Telegram accounts that the Ukrainians are currently attacking with drones anything hostile they see. However, the attacks did not result in losses for the Russians, which confirms several Western analyses that the Russian Federation still holds more than stable positions on the battlefield. But the “continuous attack on everything that moves” means that the Ukrainian army will not allow the Russian forces to “rest”. I.e. – a non-pause attack, as some experts describe it.
Arguably, Russia continues to be more effective at downing Ukrainian drones at the moment. For example, 20 Ukrainian drones were shot down in 24 hours. This happened on the 27th and 28th of March. To shoot down the drones, Russia primarily uses a variety of air defense systems, including OSA-AKM, Strela-10, and Tor-M2.
Last but not least, Russia keeps producing drones. Lancet-2 has already received the Lancet-3 modification. Lancet-3 has officially entered serial production since mid-March. When the first units will be seen at the front – remains unknown. The Lancet-3 is supposed to have an electro-optical system, upgraded software for better control, and a more powerful warhead to eventually destroy Western tanks.
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