Ukraine’s battlefield successes are being studied internationally
Ukraine is proving a testing ground for military technology where innovative use of commercial drones in coordination with more conventional artillery, for example, is being studied around the world.
Taiwan has been studying Ukraine’s successes in repulsing lumbering Russian attacks, aware of the threat from the Chinese mainland. Taipei is also aware that China has not fought a war since its disastrous invasion of Vietnam in 1979.
Turkey’s Bayraktar drones, made by Baykar, have been used by Azerbaijan to crush Armenia during the one-sided, 44-day war that started in September 2020. The firm has long been supplying Ukraine.
The Ukrainian success of the Bayraktar against Russian armoured columns and supply routes in Ukraine has sparked global interest in the relatively affordable drones.
And frequent flights between Turkey and Poland between February and April indicate that Turkey has continued to deliver drones since the Russian invasion in February.
Around 40 countries have military drone forces, writes Roger Boyes in The Times.
Israel, a pioneer in the field, has unveiled a drone weighing a little more than 1.5kg with around seven minutes of flying time which can enter buildings, send information to the operator and release something similar to a grenade blast.
Drones cost little compared with other military hardware and can enable relatively weak armed forces to challenge mighty armies. They are also simple to use by operatives who grew up playing computer games.
Boyes writes that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has told Washington that each Russian missile strike could have been prevented with proper US weaponry. As a result, Ukraine has received light Stinger missiles originally denied an export licence, GPS-guided Himars (high-mobility artillery rocket systems) and Harm missiles, which can target enemy electronic and radar transmissions. Harms are designed to be used with US F-16 fighters but Ukraine has adapted them to existing MiGs, impressing the Americans, Boyes argues.
The Himars have hit Russian ammunition depots, command bunkers and already-stretched supply chains.
Ukrainian drones locate Russian artillery
Boyes argues that the Russian military leadership has proved cumbersome and stuck in the past. “The direction of combat is determined rigidly from above. When things don’t work out, generals have to get closer to the front lines to analyse, adjust orders and command. That’s one reason at least eight Russian generals have been killed in the war so far. They need to be on the spot because the chain of command is too sluggish to keep up with surprises sprung by the Ukrainians.”
Bayraktar TB2 drones in Ukraine. Picture credit: Digit