Russia likely running short on drones, hindering key war reconnaissance strategy: UK

Russia likely running short on drones, hindering key war reconnaissance strategy: UK thumbnail

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The war in Ukraine has been driven by artillery and drone capabilities Western defense officials have advised, but according to the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense Saturday, Russia may be running low on “pivotal” unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The defense ministry stated that UAVs are vulnerable to both Ukrainian forces and Russian forces. While Kyiv relied on allies to continue providing military assistance in its war against Moscow’s, heavy sanctions have prevented Russian Forces from maintaining their drone needs.

The drone was found to have a number of DIY modifications. 

It was discovered that the drone could be modified in a variety of ways.
(Ukraine Ministry of Defense)

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Russia’s limited domestic UAV production could be hindering key components of its reconnaissance strategy, the ministry noted.

“Russia has attempted to implement the concept of ‘Reconnaissance strike’ [that] it refined in Syria, which uses reconnaissance UAVs to identify targets to be struck by combat jets or artillery,” the ministry said. Russia is likely to be experiencing a shortage in the appropriate reconnaissance UAVs for this mission. The defense ministry stated that Russia is largely continuing to avoid sending crewed aerial sorties over Ukraine, as its air defense system is intact.

” If Russia continues to lose UAVs, Russian forces intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities will be further degraded. This will negatively impact operational effectiveness.” the ministry concluded.

Airstrikes and shelling have largely dominated Russia’s strategy in Ukraine, which it has pummeled for nearly 90 days.

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a residential building destroyed by shelling, as Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 3, 2022. Picture taken with a drone.

FILE PHOTO: An aerial view shows a residential building destroyed by shelling, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, in the settlement of Borodyanka in the Kyiv region, Ukraine March 3, 2022. Photograph taken using a drone.
(REUTERS/Maksim Levin/File Photo)

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A senior U.S. defense official told reporters this week that the Pentagon has assessed a decrease in the number of sortie operations in eastern and southern Ukraine, though this was in part due to weather the official noted.

“We’re not seeing the same number of strikes on or near Mariupol and of course that we believe is tied to their view that the resistance has all but ended there,” the defense official told reporters Thursday.

“Even the Ukrainians have admitted that the combat operations in Mariupol have ended,” the official added, noting it made “logistical” sense why the Russians were hitting the port city less.

Airstrikes continue to play a large combat role outside of Kharkiv in the country’s northeastern region, where Ukrainian forces have pushed Russian troops back near their own border. U.S. defense officials believe that Russia has made “incremental gains” in the Donbas and along the Black Sea.

Ukrainian soldiers examine Russian multiple missiles abandoned by Russian troops, in the village of Berezivka, Ukraine, on April 21.

Ukrainian soldiers examine Russian multiple missiles abandoned by Russian troops, in the village of Berezivka, Ukraine, on April 21.
(AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

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Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Friday this progress is slow and Russia remains behind on where it hoped to be by now on strategic advancements. “It’s incremental, it’s slow, it’s uneven, and the Ukrainians keep pushing back,” he said.

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