“Costly counter drone warfare in Ukraine heightens interest in non-kinetic systems” – Eurasiantimes

According to a report by Eurasiantimes: “Russia’s extensive use of Iranian-made drones against Ukrainian targets puts a great deal of strain on Ukraine’s air defense systems, which are forced to use high-priced missiles to counter these low-cost drones.”

Ukraine’s armed forces claim to have shot down 223 Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drones in the last 36 days, says the report. “US Defense Department Press Secretary Pat Ryder said on Thursday that Iranian drones provided to Russian forces are wreaking havoc despite a limited ability by Ukraine to shoot down some of the aerial systems.”

“In terms of their effectiveness and the Ukrainians’ ability to address them, it’s our assessment that the Ukrainians have been pretty effective in terms of shooting a lot of those drones down,” Ryder said during a press briefing. “That said, clearly they have wreaked havoc… it’s a serious threat.”

The report continues: “This raises serious concerns about the feasibility of using expensive missiles launched by various weapon systems to combat such inexpensive drones. According to Ukraine, its anti-aircraft defense systems have eliminated 85% of the Russian invaders’ Shahed-136 drones.

“Experts, however, pointed out that the issue is not the efficiency of Ukraine’s weapon systems but the cost of the missiles used by those defense systems. The current situation shows that Moscow is attacking Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure with kamikaze drones.

“William Alberque, Director of Strategy, Technology, and Arms Control for IISS, told the EurAsian Times — “cheap suicide drones is complex and difficult. The attacker can use a number of strategies to cause maximum damage.”

“Alberque, who previously also served as the director of NATO’s Arms Control, Disarmament, and WMD Non-Proliferation Centre (ACDC), said that “Solid drone defenses – just like missile defense – require very expensive solutions.”

“Defending against drones, like against missiles, is difficult because it is an offense-permissive environment, that is to say, the advantage always accrues to the attacker. For every ten dollars, you spend on defenses, the attacker only needs to spend one dollar to design a new way around your defenses,” he noted.

“Military leaders have also voiced similar concerns in the past. For instance, a top US Army general disclosed in 2017 that a consumer-grade quadcopter drone was destroyed using a Patriot PAC-2 missile, a multi-million dollar air defense missile.

The report continues, noting that “Moscow, meanwhile, is in a similar predicament and is using its missile stockpiles to thwart the attacks of small Ukrainian drones. It was recently reported that Russia is working to develop the “Antimaidan-Rubezh” anti-drone robot complex to combat small unmanned aerial vehicles.

“The decision was purportedly made to reduce the deployment of expensive missiles, which against drones, are highly inefficient from an economic perspective. Vladislav Lobaev, the founder of Lobaev Arms, one of Russia’s research and development firms, earlier noted that using pricey missiles worth a million dollars against small drones and copters is economically highly impractical.

“This project is presently in the research and development stage. If this system shows considerable promise, it will proceed to the experimental design phase.

“In May, Russia even claimed to have deployed a new generation of powerful lasers to destroy drones in Ukraine. However, such weapons are not currently considered completely operational worldwide, which prevents them from being a practical and affordable option for stopping drone assaults. Russia has also started upgrading its air defense systems to engage drones, and these guns are less expensive than MANPADS. But, it appears that neither Ukraine nor NATO has invested in specialized AD weapons.

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