The Turkish drone Bayraktar TB2 was one of the heroes of the Ukrainian resistance at the beginning of the war. So much so that the effective attacks of TB2 on Russian front lines and convoys increased its popularity among Ukrainians. Even folk songs were written for Bayraktar TB2s.
On the other hand, donations were collected for the purchase of Bayraktar TB2 in many countries.
The UAV in question is known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (Moyenne Altitude Long Endurance / MALE) for reconnaissance and intelligence missions.
Experts think that Bayraktar TB2 occupies an important place in the strategic communication of Ukrainian forces.
Used as a key element during a number of important armed operations, such as the neutralization of a convoy of Russian military vehicles from Belarus at the beginning of the war or the destruction of the cruiser Moskva in the Black Sea, the TB2 became a symbol of the early days of the conflict.
Moscow regularly used the Iranian-made kamikaze UAV, known as the Shahed-136, in the depths of Ukraine many times.
On the other hand, according to the Russian government’s statement, Kiev is sending similar planes deep into Russia and even to Moscow, whether in the Crimea or the Belgorod region.
For some time, Ukrainian forces have resorted to long-range kamikaze UAVs for kamikaze attacks, Chinese drones with commercially available propellers, or ex-Soviet Tu-141 reconnaissance drones equipped with explosive devices and capable of hitting targets on Russian soil.
Kamikaze UAVs are usually much cheaper than defensive or attack missiles.
Therefore, UAVs are a method frequently used by both sides to ensure and exhaust the use of enemy defense missiles and to create ‘chaos in partially safe areas’ in the depths of the other side.
Russia has used Iranian-made Shahed-136 UAVs to hit many strategic targets, instead of missiles, which are very costly and have long production times, into the depths of Ukraine.
Although Iran keeps its silence on this issue, it has been clearly determined that the said UAVs are used in Ukrainian cities, especially in the capital Kiev.
On the other hand, for some time now, most of the UAVs have been used near the front for reconnaissance and target designation or attack.
To this end, the Ukrainian side uses modified small commercial UAVs to drop bombs on the bunkers of Russian soldiers.
These attacks by the Ukrainian side on the front lines are abundantly visible on social media. So much so that these attacks are also shared for the purpose of psychological superiority or motivation.
So, which models are used?
There are tactical drones such as Ufuria with a range of about 50 km on the Ukrainian side and Eleron-3 on the Russian side. These have a range of less than 10 km.
Commercially acquired and modified ‘quadcopters’ also frequently appear on the fronts.
Against these, each side has deployed defense systems, especially electronic ones, to intercept very low-cost drones from time to time.
Both Ukraine and Russia do not want to hit these cheap UAVs with expensive missiles.
On the other hand, electronic warfare is an important part of this war. Electronic warfare is the most complex part of the event, both in attacking and defensive positions.
Russia has a clear advantage in electronic warfare systems as well as in air defense systems.
According to recent reports, UAV losses in the Ukraine War are quite high. There are also very interesting statistics on this subject.
For example, according to some sources, not every UAV can fly more than four to six times before being shot down.
On the other hand, Ukrainians say that they lose 10 thousand drones per month. This is a pretty high figure. However, this number cannot be verified by independent sources. This issue can also be read as part of Kiev’s strategy to reach out to Westerners who support it.
As battlefield dynamics change, UAVs will provide new capabilities for Ukrainians. They can be traded to assist in removing obstacles such as minefields or to provide the ammo or other equipment units need to continue their operations.
West Point Academy professor Dr. Vikram Mittal
With the arrival of spring, movement began on the fronts.
It is clear that UAVs will become more involved if the fronts witness large troop movements through attacks and counterattacks.
Speaking to Forbes Magazine, West Point Academy professor Dr. Vikram Mittal comments:
“As battlefield dynamics change, UAVs will provide new capabilities for Ukrainians. They can be traded to assist in removing obstacles such as minefields, or to provide the ammunition or other equipment units need to continue their operations.”
UAV cells inside Russia
It was alleged that Ukraine used its network of agents and sympathizers inside Russia to sabotage Russian targets, and started providing drones to launch attacks.
According to the news CNN quoted from the US intelligence source, US officials think that the pro-Ukrainian agents in Russia carried out the drone attack targeting the Kremlin from inside Russia in early May.
However, it is not clear whether there have been other drone attacks in recent days. Attacks were carried out from inside Russia, targeting a residential area near Moscow and oil refineries in southern Russia.
But US officials are of the opinion that Ukraine has created subversive cells inside Russia of pro-Ukrainian and well-trained agents for such wars, and that the Kiev administration is providing drones. Two US officials told CNN there was no evidence that the attacks were carried out using US-supplied drones.
Officials do not say for certain how Ukraine deployed drones behind enemy lines.
But two of the sources think it has created smuggling routes that could be used to ship the drone or its components to Russia.