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Vol. 10 No. 1 | 2023 Edition

Violet Geinger

Aerial Drones in the Ukraine War:
An Assessment of Russian Capabilities


Samuel Bendett

Both Russian and Ukrainian forces are now working with groups of drones launched against adversary positions. This often involves different drone types working in pairs—such as an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) drone directing and guiding a loitering munition to a target. There is growing evidence that Ukrainian forces are using these tactics to identify and target Russian positions. A typical group raid on the Russian trenches involves one drone to draw the attention of a counter-UAV unit, exposing their position, while other drones subsequently attack exposed soldiers.


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Samuel Bendett is an analyst with CNA’s Russia Studies Program and an adjunct senior fellow with the Center for New American Security’s Technology and National Security Program. Previously he worked at the National Defense University. The views expressed here are his own.

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