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Ukraine - Unmanned Air Vehicles

Russia's presidential office accused Ukraine 03 May 2023 of sending two drones to attack the Kremlin in a bid to kill President Vladimir Putin. The presidential press service said in a statement Wednesday that two unmanned aerial vehicles targeted the seat of the Russian government in Moscow. The statement says electronic warfare systems disabled them. It said debris fell in the Kremlin grounds but caused no damage. It said Putin was not harmed and his schedule will continue as usual. The attack on the Kremlin was foiled by local electronic warfare systems, which disabled and down the pair of unmanned aerial vehicles before they could reach their final targets.

The attack came less than a week ahead of the Victory Day Parade in the Russian capital. “The Kremlin has assessed these actions as a planned terrorist act and an assassination attempt on the president on the eve of Victory Day, the May 9 Parade,” state news outlet RIA reported. Putin is scheduled to give a speech in Red Square, near the Kremlin. The presidential office statement accuses the Ukrainian administration led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of carrying out the alleged attack. It called the incident "a pre-planned act of terrorism and an attempt on the life of the Russian president" and says Moscow "reserves the right to retaliate when and where it sees fit."

A spokesperson for Zelenskyy released a statement echoing the president's denial that Ukraine attacked either Putin or Moscow. The statement says Ukraine is "devoting all of its efforts and resources to the liberation of its own territories, not to attacking other countries." Zelenskyy denied the accusations, saying his country had not attacked Moscow or its president. “We don’t attack Putin, or Moscow; we fight on our territory,” Zelenskyy told a news conference in Helsinki, Finland. “We defend our villages and cities.”

US think tank the Institute for the Study of War says an alleged drone attack on Russia's presidential office was likely staged by the administration of President Vladimir Putin. The think tank noted in its assessment that "Russian authorities have recently taken steps to increase Russian domestic air defense capabilities, including within Moscow itself." The institute said that "it is therefore extremely unlikely that two drones could have penetrated multiple layers of air defense and detonated or been shot down just over the heart of the Kremlin." It said that Russia likely staged the drone strike in an attempt to "set conditions for a wider societal mobilization."

The United States is responsible for the drone attack on the Kremlin because “decisions on such attacks are made not in Kiev, but in Washington,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. “Washington should understand clearly that we know this,” the spokesman told reporters. Russia reserves the right to retaliate “anywhere and anytime it deems necessary” in response to the drone attack on President Vladimir Putin’s residence, the Kremlin said. Senior Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Volodin has called on Moscow to use any weapons necessary to remove the “Nazi regime” in Kiev. “The Kiev terrorist regime, having seized an entire state, threatens the security of Russia, Europe, and the whole world,” the Duma official added. Volodin proclaimed that there “can be no negotiations with the Zelensky regime” following the attempted attack on the Kremlin, and vowed that Russian lawmakers will “demand the use of weapons capable of stopping and destroying the Kiev terrorist regime.”

“After today’s terrorist act, there are no options left but the physical removal of Zelensky and his clique,” Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev stated. “We don’t need him to sign [their] unconditional surrender. Hitler, as it is known, didn’t sign his either. There will always be someone like Admiral Doenitz to sit in as president,” he added.

Commenting on the attack, former CIA intelligence officer Larry Johnson said it "is going to galvanize Russia, not create fear or discontent or division. There are others who believe that by doing this, it is going to portray Russia as weak and create internal problems. I simply note that the reactions of former [Russian] President [Dmitry] Medvedev, as well as members of the Duma – they are livid, they are outraged, and calling for escalatory retaliation against Ukraine. So I think in many respects this backfired."

Johnson believed Kiev may have targeted the Kremlin deliberately to provoke Russia into a major escalation, thus allowing the US to intervene in the conflict directly. "Ukraine at this point is in a very desperate situation, and they’re looking for any way out. And I think they perceive as one of the only ways out is to get the United States more deeply involved in this conflict," the observer explained.

the veteran intelligence officer noted, US President Joe Biden’s entire foreign policy team has been "relentless in their desire to confront Russia," risking further escalation of the conflict rather than de-escalation. "They’re trying to put a band aid on a sucking chest wound, the policy basically, the US policy in Ukraine and foreign policy across the board, is in collapse. It’s in freefall. The United States is not accomplishing its goals,” Johnson argued.

At the present stage of development of military technologies, the most progressive direction has been the development and implementation of Unmanned Air Vehicles - Bespylotnyky Letatelnyh Apparatov [Non-Piloted Flying Apparatus]. However, to call them robots or, in the West, drones is not entirely correct. In fact, these are remotely controlled combat complexes, which are fully or mainly controlled by people - operators from special control points. And it is the operators who finally recognize the targets and give the command to destroy them.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as UAVs and drones, are not uncommon today, especially in the military. However, it should be understood that the word "drone" hides a number of aircraft, the difference between which can be as between a bicycle and a tank. The smallest military drone a soldier can carry in his pocket to "look", say, around the corner. And the largest, in fact, is a full-fledged combat aircraft, simply without a cockpit, which can literally circling in the air around the clock, waiting for the opportunity to drop a bomb or missile on the enemy's head.

Most people are accustomed to small ultralight drones (quadcopters), which have become a common attribute for video and photography. The weight of military UAVs ranges from a few kilograms to 14 tons, sometimes they are "airplanes" with a wingspan of up to 20 meters. Currently, Western countries are developing drones, whose hulls are made by stealth technology, they are invisible to radar.

Given the high manufacturability of such a product, there are very few manufacturers of strike drones in the world today. So far, this market has only seven countries: France, Italy, China, Turkey, Russia, Israel and the United States. Moreover, if the production of UAVs "kamikaze" is quite realistic to deploy even in a garage, then solid large devices are produced only by Israel, the United States and China, medium in size and characteristics - even Turkey. United Europe and Russia are just beginning to implement their own projects.

Analysis of the facts of the use of unamnned aerial vehicles in armed conflicts, includuing in the East of Ukraine it is possible to conclude that the use of a large number of UAVs that can carry the combat load, can change the course of the battle and cause significant combat losses to the enemy's heavy equipment and personnel.

In 2014 Ukraine entered the war, in fact, without unmanned aerial vehicles. Soviet reconnaissance "Flights" and "Swifts", which were used in the first months of hostilities, with their film cameras, are hopelessly outdated. And there were almost no modern products in the army. While the Russian Federation, despite the huge technological lag behind the Western powers, in this area, was far ahead of Ukraine, already having a number of developments and serial samples.

Ukraine tried to buy a large drone abroad which could carry out the intelligence tasks that faced Ukrainian military personnel. But they faced the problem that no one wanted to sell a military UAV to Ukraine in a conflict. Therefore, there was no other choice but to assemble it in Ukraine.

Over the past few years, in the east of Ukraine, various UAVs have been used by the armed formations of the ORDLO and their coordinators from among the Russain special services. The effectiveness of their use is very high. UAVs can be used for sabotage and terrorist acts. An example of the use of UAVs in the commission of a sabotage act is the dumping of bombs on the weapons and ammunition depots of the 65th Arsenal of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine (Kharkiv region).

A new branch of the domestic defense-industrial complex was created from scratch. Initially, the efforts of volunteers were used to purchase civilian vehicles, which were either used "as is" or adapted to the tasks of the war with the help of the "Kulibins". However, over time, a full-fledged production of real, shock and reconnaissance weapons was established. And today this segment of the military-industrial complex is developing dynamically, claiming the title of one of the most innovative and groundbreaking in the domestic "defense". Today, Ukrainian companies are developing a number of promising products that can bring Ukrainian UAVs to a new technological height.

Tiny and not-so-unmanned aerial vehicles are slowly revolutionizing the military. For obvious reasons, the world's greatest attention focused on the Turkish model Bayraktar TB2, which repeatedly proved its combat effectiveness in the Middle East and the war in Karabakh. These drones were also in service in Ukraine. By the end of 2020 there were two such complexes, but "soon the reserves of our army may be replenished", - said the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak.

What is the general need of the Armed Forces for such weapons? After all, what does Ukrainian industry offer accordingly, what can it brag about? Prior to the war in the Donbas, unmanned aerial vehicles in the Ukrainian army were virtually absent as a class. The only type was the extremely outdated (both physically and morally) Soviet Tu-143 "Flight". However, their combat effectiveness is evidenced by the fact that the camera that stood on them was film.

Drones have been used in large numbers and continue to be used to reconnoiter, monitor and adjust artillery fire by both the Ukrainian military and enemies in eastern Ukraine. However, in the sky over the fields of Donbass take off mostly civilian drones, not specially made for the army, but adapted to the realities of war. The reason for the lack of army drones was that the development of computer technology allowed to create full-fledged combat UAVs only in the mid-1990s, and Ukrainian defense industry is based on the legacy of the USSR, which collapsed before the breakthrough in drone technology.

War dictates its rules. In conditions of protracted positional confrontation, UAVs became almost the only means of reconnaissance and surveillance by the Russian occupation forces. That is why the widespread use of means to combat enemy drones is one of the top priorities for our military at the forefront.

During the fighting, the army began to receive numerous civilian vehicles from volunteers (both collected "on their knees" and bought in China), which were either used "as is" or with the help of "people's engineering genius" were brought to the state of a strike drone ( the so-called "Afghan version", when a faceted glass with a grenade, or something wrapped in scotch tape, is fixed in the drone camera holder). However, how effective such a weapon can be called ... If the goal is to scare the enemy, then there is probably some sense in it. However, at that time there was no talk of any shock options, let alone mass production.

From the very beginning of the Ukrainian-Russian war in 2014, the Armed Forces of Ukraine felt an urgent need for unmanned aerial vehicles. Through the efforts of volunteers, civilian vehicles were purchased, which were either used "as is" or, with the help of "people's engineering genius", adapted to the needs of war. The military recounts stories about Ukrainian masters who could bring a peaceful quadcopter to the state of a strike drone only through ingenuity.

Active development of Ukrainian UAVs began in 2014, mainly by private and volunteer structures. Soon they proposed a number of their own projects of drones and BB, the best of which were adopted by the Armed Forces and other structures, they are even exported. First of all, these are UAVs of the aircraft scheme: Fury (from Athlon Avia), Stork-100 (DeViRo) - the most massive drones in the Ukrainian army with a range of up to 50 km, PD-1 (UkrSpecSystems) with a range of over 100 km. All of them are used for reconnaissance and fire adjustment.

Real industrial development of military UAVs began in Ukraine only in 2016 by the Antonov aircraft design bureau. However, only one device is currently being tested. The fact is that "Ukrainian" combat UAVs have almost entirely imported electronic "stuffing", which is not cheap at all. And given the high manufacturability of production, it is very doubtful that in the near future Ukraine will be able to produce its own electronics for UAVs.

The two most acute problems are the technological and material base. After all, Ukraine does not produce radio equipment and electronics for drones, nor special materials for the devices themselves - so Ukraine depends on the supply of components. Without intensification of developments in the field of electronics and production of light composite materials, it will be difficult to develop the industry of unmanned aerial vehicles.

In other words, in addition to these problems with production, for the successful use of UAVs on the battlefield, Ukraine actually "from scratch" needs to build a system of management, satellite communications and navigation. Also, if Ukraine wants the role of drones on the battlefield not to be limited to reconnaissance and surveillance, Ukraine needed to start developing and manufacturing special weapons systems for drones.

The private company "Ukrspetsystems" over the past few years has become one of the most important players in the Ukrainian market of unmanned vehicles. The company offers flexible solutions for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for military purposes, including the PD-1 glider type, gyro-stabilized gimbals with thermal and daytime cameras, PC-1 series quadcopters and related equipment. Thanks to the use of the latest technologies and progressive engineering practices, Ukrspetsystems offers high quality products at affordable prices. The priority among customers is the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

At International Aviation and Space Salon «AVIASVIT - XXI» October 11 — 14, 2016, Ukrainian company Ukrspecsystems unveiled two unmanned aircraft systems: PD-1 and PC-1. PD-1 [People's Drone] is a lightweight UAV with a wingspan of 3 meters, equipped with ICE (internal combustion engine). It is suitable for surveillance and other purposes. The UAV is equipped with digital encrypted data channel with a high level of protection against any interference. PD-1 has up to 8 kg of carrying capacity (excluding fuel). The maximum takeoff weight is 33 kg. The machine is capable of carrying any payload without balancing. Its flight time is 5 hours (for basic configuration).

"Reconnaissance drones are more or less in decent quality entering the service of the Armed Forces. These are, first of all, "Fury", "Stork-100", which are produced by small firms, well, as they are produced - assembled from Chinese components. But the drums… There are not enough of them in the sixth year of the war in the Armed Forces, ”military expert Mykhailo Zhyrokhov commented on Ukrinform 30 November 2020. Today, he says, Ukrainian army can boast only Turkish "Bayraktars" (translated from Turkish - "Flagbearer"). "These are two such complexes (consisting of six drones, two control stations and 200 guided missiles), which were delivered to Ukraine in March 2019, successfully passed state tests and put into service," the expert added.

Ukraine has created a number of different types of strike drones (strike-reconnaissance, strike and kamikaze - fundamentally different in price, impact, tasks), capable of destroying enemy targets, while preventing possible human and infrastructural losses. However, it should be noted that a significant part of them is still under development and factory testing.

It is worth mentioning such promising projects as Gorlytsia (SE Antonov) and PD-1 (UkrSpecSystems). In addition to purely reconnaissance tasks (aerial surveying, surveillance, patrol, search and monitoring missions, etc.), these devices, in the case of completion / modernization, can move into the category of tactical strike drones.

The new version of the PD-1 is equipped with a new more powerful engine, which can now be equipped with barrage ammunition, which is installed in special hanging containers, located one on each wing. The payload, according to the developers, is 8 kg. The maximum flight time is 5 hours. "Ceiling" - 2 km. The accuracy of the defeat from a height of one kilometer is about ten meters, but this figure, as noted in the description, also depends on whether the ammunition is equipped with aiming and trajectory adjustment systems. "We are currently working on unmanned ammunition, but, of course, there is a need for precision weapons. The most interesting stage is the transition to guided ammunition which is adjusted during the flight. Therefore, this stage (with unguided ammunition) can be considered intermediate.

These developments do not exhaust the whole range of innovations in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles of Ukraine. Thus, the industry of production and development of UAVs, which practically did not exist five years ago, today in Ukraine not only exists, but also looks confidently into the future. From the large number of companies that entered the market of unmanned aerial vehicles in 2014, five years after the natural "rejection" formed a stable backbone of the flagship companies.

Turkish UAVs had repeatedly proven their effectiveness on the battlefields in Syria and Libya. An excellent reputation with a good price / quality ratio has made this piece of Turkish engineering one of the most promising projects for export to customers around the world. It is not surprising that in the context of the confrontation in the Donbass, Ukraine acquired several Bayraktar TB2 aircraft at once. By July 2020, Ankara and Kyiv were negotiating their joint production in Ukraine.

Turkish Ambassador Yagmur Ahmet Guldere stated this in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine. "—Ukraine has already purchased Bayraktar unmanned aerial vehicle systems. We had discussions on various topics, and this issue was also discussed between the two countries. Also discussed is the joint development of even more powerful systems and even the production of Bayraktar drones in Ukraine, provided that the appropriate conditions are provided. I think that the defense industry can become a new symbol in Turkish-Ukrainian cooperation, including these specific projects".

The course and triumphant completion of Operation Iron Fist in September-November 2020, which enabled Baku to take control of Nagorno-Karabakh, provoked a lively reaction from experts, especially in Ukraine. On average, up to 100 Azerbaijani drones were in the air every day during the fighting. At the same time, it was proved that the occupied territories are not liberated only through negotiations. For Ukraine, which had been suffering from Russian aggression for seven years, Baku's experience is very attractive. And from the military point of view, the practice of using UAVs by Azerbaijani units is of special interest, as the operation in Nagorno-Karabakh had elements of long-range wars of the future.

On June 15–18, 2021, the only event in Ukraine in the field of aviation and space technologies – Aviasvit-XXI International Aviation and Space Salon – took place at the International Exhibition Centre. Aviation industry of Ukraine was traditionally represented by booths of industry leaders and numerous booths of public and private enterprises. The real trend of the exhibition in 2021 was a large number of companies that presented unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of various types and purposes.

On October 26, 2021, the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the first time used the Bayraktar drone in the Donbas to "force the enemy to cease fire." This caused a wave of reactions abroad, in particular, dissatisfaction with Russia. Shortly afterwards, Ankara urged Kyiv not to call the purchased drones Turkish. In November 2021, Reznikov announced the purchase of a new batch of Bayraktar drones from Turkey.

The Ukrainian military received a unique opportunity to work out the tactics of using the reconnaissance strike unmanned complex "Bayraktar" and anti-tank missile launchers "Javelin". This was announced 24 November 2021 by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny. The tests were carried out at the "Wide Lan" training ground in the Nikolaev region. In particular, the servicemen worked out the use of new types of equipment in "combat" conditions.

“We have acquired and received from our partners high-tech weapons as material and technical assistance, which significantly increased the combat capability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. These are, in particular, the Bayraktar reconnaissance and strike systems and the Javelin anti-tank missile systems,” Zaluzhny said.

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov announced the construction of a plant in Ukraine for the production of Turkish Bayraktar unmanned aerial vehicles with Ukrainian engines. He made the statement on 03 February 2022, at a briefing in Kyiv. According to the Minister, a framework agreement on cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey in the field of high military technologies is planned to be signed. He added that "one of the examples of filling this agreement will be the construction of the Bayraktar plant, which manufactures unmanned aerial vehicles, which will be manufactured in Ukraine."

The Minister noted that according to the decision of the Turkish company that manufactures Bayraktar, the next generation of drones will use engines manufactured by Motor Sichi, a Ukrainian manufacturer of aircraft engines (Zaporizhzhya). "In fact, it will be the Ukrainian-Turkish Bayraktari in terms of technological content. And, accordingly, they will be used in the armed forces of Ukraine, Turkey and those countries that will want to buy them," he said.

Russia's radio jamming equipment is considered one of the best in the world, and Ukraine's front line is described as a constant game of hide-and-seek – or “radio-electronic warfare” – between drone operators and radio jamming specialists.

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Page last modified: 05-05-2023 18:37:14 ZULU