November 7, 2022

The War of Drones

Which UAVs do the Ukrainian forces have, and how do they make a difference when compared with UAVs used by Russians? Timofey Rojansky, a journalist with Current Time, talked with Ivan Tolchinsky, CEO of ATLAS, about the role of drones in the Russia-Ukraine war. There is a written English version of this story below.

Photo Current Time:
Photo Current Time:

Drones have become an integral part of modern war. Both sides actively use them in the war in Ukraine. At first, they often were hitting targets independently, but air defense systems often started shooting them down with more frequency over time, thus big drones don’t fly up to enemy positions closely and stay to observe from the sidelines.

ATLAS Aerospace makes the world’s most modern drones, used by rescuers for searching for people, or militaries, including the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The most technologically difficult part of such a drone is the camera, which automatically fixes enemy positions.

Ivan Tolchinsky, CEO of ATLAS says:

“They also are translated to the earth, while in the NATO command post - such centers are in Ukraine now too - this image is put to a map. Feedback is quickest after that because you immediately know where the goal is, what it looks at, what the coordinates are, and of course, a correction of the fire is done perfectly and much faster”.

Drones used by Russia don’t have technologies like that. According to data from Ukrainian intelligence, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have hit more than 700 Russian UAVs, including, for example, ORLAN 10. It was created from a sample of an Israeli drone, which Israelis have not used for more than 15 years.

Sergiy Grabsky, a Ukrainian military expert, says that a mirror camera on a UAV used by the Russian Army is just an additional eye to rise high and look to the horizon, but no more than that.

“Using of an old technique of the Russian Army excludes new technologies on a large scale. A new technique, for example, if we talk about the same howitzers-777, is created as a single complex, meaning the system of receiving and processing information must be connected to a fire control system, guidance, and striking”.

The camera of a modern drone fits in a backpack, a single person can operate it. The drone fixes a position and sends its coordinates to a command post, and a howitzer opens fire in a few minutes to precise coordinates. The drones of the Russian army can’t do that.

Ivan Tolchinsky, CEO of ATLAS explains:

“It’s more difficult to correct fire because you don't receive that information from a camera you need. When a camera was created for a fire adjustment, it translates adapted data for you. Secondly, the quality of the image is still bad because it is old sensors and chips released at the end of the 90s to the start of the 2000s”.

Apart from modern reconnaissance drones, the Armed Forces of Ukraine use strike drones that can hit enemy positions. However, experts call the fighting in the East and South of Ukraine a war of artillery - and artillery needs to be pointed precisely.

Yuriy Fedorov, the Ukrainian military expert, says:

“This factor is very important because drones help to determine precise coordinates of positions. If these coordinates were fixed with enough precision, the artillery is pointed to this position. But here is the difference. High-precision artillery systems are sent to Ukraine, not so many, but they are sent - HIMARS, MLRS, and others, and high-precision barrel artillery”.

The technology gap between the Russian and Ukrainian armies is getting bigger and bigger. While Russians deal with buying drones in Iran, Ukrainians buy them from private companies developing new technologies.

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