In the last 48 hours, Ukraine has apparently conducted a “War of the Drones” on Moscow and other locations in Russia, as well as on occupied Crimea – simply because it now can through increased weapons supply and technological innovation.

The increased drone strikes come as Ukraine is likely becoming the largest manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – and their naval equivalents – in the world, including the potentially crowd-funded “Bober” drones that probably hit a government ministry building in Russia’s capital.

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“Such a level of production of lethal, ground and floating drones as in Ukraine is not found in any country in the world,” said Oleksandr Kamyshin, the Ukrainian Minister responsible for growing military production.

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Experts believe this is all part of an unprecedented push by the government, the private sector and even civil society to radically increase the war-torn country’s military capability and self-reliance.

Crowd-funded Drones

Yesterday, Serhiy Prytula, the founder of one of Ukraine’s main projects for military and humanitarian fundraising, posted photos and video of himself with Ukrainian-made “Bober” (Beaver) drones that apparently are of the type sighted over Moscow and have a range of some 1,000 kilometers.

“Muscovites! Shudder from the sirens. Go to bomb shelters. Watch as it flies into strategic objects. Do not sleep from the work of air defense. Go to the funerals of loved ones. And at the same time, don't get tired of looking for an answer to the question: For what?!” Prytula, a popular television personality, Tweeted.

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From primarily Ukrainian citizens, Prytula’s foundation raised $5.5 million to buy 50 Bobers for the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) at around $108,000 each.

CNN journalists were yesterday allowed to visit a testing site for Ukrainian-invented and manufactured naval drones. The drones have been funded and created as an initiative of United24, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s fundraising platform. Ukraine aims to assemble a fleet of 100 such vessels, some of which were used to recently damage the Kerch Bridge to occupied Crimea.

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Self-Reliance

Indeed, Kyiv is racing to build up its own military production so it won’t have to depend on foreign charity.

"We are building Ukraine's strength as a weapons manufacturer,” Oleksandr Kamyshin, the Minister for Strategic Industries of Ukraine, said in an interview earlier this month.

Kamyshin did not provide specific figures on the production capacity of the Ukrainian defense industry, which are secret, but noted that it had doubled over the past month.

He added that Ukraine produced more mortar and artillery shells last month than it made in all of 2022.

Kamyshin, who is 39 years old and sports a Kozak braid, was previously the very highly regarded leader of Ukrazaliznytsia (UZ), Ukraine’s monopoly railway system. He is credited for remarkably keeping the country’s transport system going during the period of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Transformation

His aim is to remake Ukraine’s Soviet-style defense industry – known for decades for corruption and inefficiency – into an engine of the war effort – even as fighting rages around manufacturing plants.

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Effectively, through Kamyshin, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Federov, the Ukrainian government is pitching foreign producers to come to wartime Ukraine, where costs are low, where production facilities are being rebuilt within months, where they can use daily battlefield experience to test and upgrade their weapons, and where the government will clear obstacles.

In one example, in three months since its establishment in late April, a Ukrainian Government portal and management hub – the Brave1 platform – for military technology innovation has coordinated, vetted and listed some 300 projects. The platform is aimed at foreign companies in particular.

Such confidence building moves and improved systems appear to be bearing early results with more private investment in Ukrainian military manufacturing.

Forbes, for example, recently reported a new company manufacturing kamikaze FPV (first person view) racing drones for Ukraine “emerging from stealth mode.”

Success

One Way Aerospace’s Scalpel attack drones have proved themselves in action, including in targeting and destroying Russian tanks, and now production is being ramped up.

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“We are establishing a larger factory to scale to several thousand units monthly in Ukraine with the assistance of local authorities,” one of the company’s principals told Forbes.

While the US-supplied Javelin guided anti-tank missiles cost almost $200,000 a shot, the basic Scalpel costs around $1,000.

The contracts with One Way Aerospace appear to be part of Ukraine’s $860m Army of Drones initiative which aims to equip sixty new drone assault companies with large numbers of loitering munitions, the majority of which will be Ukrainian-built.

Also, two of Europe’s biggest arms manufacturers – Germany’s Rheinmetall AG, and BAE Systems Plc of the UK – have confirmed they’re in talks to establish production in Ukraine, while Rheinmetall has taken a 51 percent stake in a joint venture to repair and maintain tanks.

Turkey’s Baykar Tech said in October it was forging ahead with plans to build a factory to make its Bayraktar TB-2 drones in Ukraine, where its engines were already made. In December, the company said it had tested a new jet powered version of the drone that would again be powered by Zaporizhzhia-based Motor Sich PJSC.

The Result

 

In its daily intelligence assessment on Monday, the British Ministry of Defense said Ukraine’s drone attacks combined with a number of other current factors “highlight the Russian state’s failure to insulate the population from the war.”

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Comments (3)

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Joan of Arc
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Why is Ukriane targeting civilians? That is not right!. I do not support this aggression. It is cowardly to use drones against civilian targets. Killing civilians is wrong.

Cz
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@Joan of Arc, I'm actually amazed at the Ukrainians' ability to resist underhanded tactics given pillage and rape has been Russia's modus operandi from the get go. If someone had bombed my family like that I can't say I'd be able to maintain the same resolve.

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Cz
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@Joan of Arc, wasn't civilians, was command and control. Arguabley better than killing a Russian conscripts who've been fed a load of lies.

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Go-AFU
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As an American I fully support Ukraine and am embarrassed by the U.S. foot dragging on weapon supplies. However, attacking Moscow with drones is a waste of precious resources and only serves to support Putin's rhetoric about Russia being threatened. Instead, the drones should be used to target things like the Don River Bridge on the M-4 highway and any other vulnerable points used by the Russians to transport supplies to the front lines. Use the drones to strike railroad tracks, preferably with freight trains carrying fuel and/or weapons as well as strike any other roadways which will inhibit the transport of supplies. Strike fuel stations and vehicle repair depots.
As for that abomination the Kerch Strait Bridge, I awake everyday hoping to read the railway section has finally been put into the water.
Wake up Western world! Either provide everything the AFU needs to expel the Russians or we will all be facing this same scenario in another ten years.

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Imokru2
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It is clear now that Russia cannot meet its original goal of subjugating Ukraine into its orbit to become a second Belarus.
Once Russia itself is under constant attack from Ukraine, and it cannot advance on the battlefield, it will sue for peace then go home. They will try to defend Crimea though and threaten nuclear weapons usage.
A good peace solution for Crimea would be that it is part of Ukraine and governed as such, but that Russia has a long term lease on its base at Sevastopol.

Jamie Hill
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@Imokru2, Isn't that the situation that Russia already rejected? Neutralize all Russians in Crimea.

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