Samuel Bendett Profile picture
Dec 31, 2022 20 tweets 8 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1/ A THREAD: As 2022 draws to a close, a few words about how technology helped shape and influence the war in Ukraine – specifically, the impact of commercial quadcopters. ImageImageImageImage
2/ Ukraine led this charge as Russia invaded in February 2022, scoring some major successes in key battles against Russian forces, with quadcopters providing crucial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to long-range artillery and MLRS systems.
3/ This capacity enabled Ukraine to better organize and position its forces to meet the invading Russian military.…
4/ The pinnacle of this tactic is a Chinese-made DJI Mavic quadcopter – easy to procure, easy to fly/ navigate, it became absolutely indispensable for ISR, target spotting, artillery correction and combat missions like “kamikaze attacks”, dropping small bombs and grenades. ImageImageImageImage
5/ Ukrainian military forces have greater flexibility and independence in making decision based on the data from these quadcopters, a key capability that enabled them to faster react to Russian movements, maneuvers and force-positioning. This is still the case now.
6/ But the Russian military and its allies likewise incorporated the DJI and other quadcopters like Autel into their tactics and force structure. DNR militia expanded its drone training center in 2022 to teach drone operators that fly Mavics and other models. Image
7/ Ukraine has done the same, constantly training its soldiers with the help of the industry, ICT and other volunteers to make their quadcopters more lethal and effective.…
8/ Russian forces have done the same, with the DNR drone center leading the way, along with other significant volunteer-based efforts like "Dronnitsa." The goal: make quadcopter use organic, train the operators and trainers who can quickly teach others how to use such technology. Image
9/ Today, drone-delivered videos are comm on social medial, with lots of content coming from quadcopters. Videos of attacks, tracking the soldiers and vehicles, of strike and bombings are in inseparable part of the Ukraine war narrative, told by Ukrainians and Russians alike.
10/ These DJI and Autel (and other) quadcopters have become so successful when paired with artillery that a Russian top general called DJI Mavic a true symbol of modern warfare, elevating artillery to the pedestal not seen since WW1.
11/ But these commercial products are vulnerable to military-grade countermeasures like electronic warfare, signals interference and different-caliber weapons. Both sides acknowledged that such countermeasures can have a powerful detrimental effect on quadcopter ops.
12/ This led to measures to counter these tactics - building different flight concepts, manipulating software and disengaging from the aeroscope. Ukraine and Russian efforts include hackathons to come up with the best ways to pilot such UAVs in a severely contested environment.
13/ What's in store for Mavic and other quadcopters in 2023? More widespread use, better integration of quadcopters and their operators into combined arms formations and units, and more widespread pilot training.…
14/ Additional evolution includes building on current group quadcopter use to scaling it up to swarm ops, enabled by machine learning algorithms that recognize targets on the ground.…
15/ The DJI will finally see the semblance of competition as Ukrainian and Russian domestic efforts include investing in mass-scale production capacity to deliver thousands of small UAVs and quadcopters to the front.…
16/ For Russia, the continue dependence on many Chinese-made components will remain a feature in 2023. “Got it on AliExpress” will remain relevant, as customers will look for ready quadcopters solutions and components at online and physical marketplaces.…
17/ In 2022, Telegram-based informational awareness and fundraising reached unprecedented levels, allowing volunteers to donate specific equipment, materiel and even raise funds for specific drones. Image
18/ As the Russian military seeks to retrain its mobilized force, it will push quadcopter use down to the tactical levels for more advanced tactical ISR. For both sides, targeting the other’s quadcopter operations left-of-launch and during/post- launch will remain a key tactic.
19/ Bottom line - the small quadcopter showed its utility in 2022 and we will see its use become more professionalized by both sides. ImageImageImageImage
20/ Questions for next year: Will national industries finally find a substitute to DJI drones in combat? Can these small quadcopters be battle-hardened to withstand countermeasures? Can their operations become more sophisticated with new technology like AI? Stay tuned… Image

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More from @sambendett

Mar 28
1/ Ukraine's Mykhailo Fedorov, on his Telegram: Today, the first three UAV strike companies are ready for battle. Pick-up trucks, attack copters and Starlinks were handed over. All drones are Ukrainian-made. The equipment for the strike companies of the Drone Army was purchased…… Image
2/ "Drones will perform reconnaissance and strike missions, will aim artillery, help soldiers to be as effective as possible during urban battles and save lives. Pickups will be needed for raids behind enemy lines, delivery of goods and evacuation of the wounded."
3/ "Starlinks are uninterrupted communication on the battlefield. All of this is our competitive advantage over the Russians. Within the framework of President Zelensky's UNITED24 project, the Drone Army has grown into a large state program to support the development of UAVs."
Read 4 tweets
Mar 27
1/ QUICK THREAD re. Russia's lag in combat drone development and fielding - one pro-Kremlin Telegram channel offered the following points (some were articulated earlier by other Russia-based commentators.) Image
2/ "One has to deal with commentators who say that Russia overslept the UAV revolution, that Russian generals did not prepare the army for such a massive use of drones. I want to support all such whiners - yes, they overslept, but they were not preparing for such a war."
3/ "But we weren't the only ones sleeping. The whole world fell asleep. All military scientific organizations, academies and experts talked about the need to build ever more powerful, long-range drones, carrying a significant missile and bomb load or the most complex radar and……
Read 12 tweets
Mar 27
1/4 Russian Telegram channels on the impact of FPV quadcopters and drone use in war: "It is quite obvious that the future belongs to robotic unmanned technologies. 10-15 years will pass and the drone operator will be the main specialty among armies around the world, and then..."
2/4 "...the main profession will evolve into the operator of robotic operators, who will control robots that control squads of flying kamikaze drones, dog-like drones running forward, exposing smoke screens and electronic interference for the passage of robot-controlled, unmanned……
3/4 "And now this future can already be seen on the battlefield, where soon one of the main weapons will be FPV drones - inexpensive, but effective striking drones with a price of just 50,000 rubles + the price of ammunition for RPG-7, while Lancets cost about $100,000 each on……
Read 4 tweets
Mar 27
1/ Russia's Kommersant on Sino-Russian high-tech cooperation: China is more interested in Russian fundamental science, while the Russia is interested in the Chinese experience in commercializing tech developments.
2/ "Russia and China now have a common agenda of confrontation with Western countries, so they see each other less as a threat, and more as partners at this particular historical moment."
3/ "Although China was able to achieve world leadership in key scientific and technological indicators, incl. the number of publications in international scientific journals, other states are ahead of it in many areas of fundamental research."
Read 6 tweets
Mar 26
1/ QUICK THREAD: Russian media keeps ringing alarm about Ukraine's impending use of FPV-type drone swarms against Russian targets like forces stationed in Crimea. Main points below from one such article.…
2/ "The main point is that drones in a swarm are connected to each other. Their key advantage is that they have an ineffective dispersion area, so it is virtually impossible to detect them by regular air defense means, its quite difficult to fight against them that way."
3/ "We have to understand that we cannot shoot at such small drones from the Pantsir air defense complex. And if air defense system cannot protect itself from UAVs, then, accordingly, it itself becomes one of the priority targets for these drones."
Read 8 tweets
Mar 24
1/ Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister for Innovation, Education, Science and Technology – Minister for Digital Transformation, on his Telegram channel about the development of Ukrainian military drones. Main points below: Image
2/ "Today, the Government launched the mass production of drones in Ukraine. A truly historic resolution was adopted for victory, which will significantly speed up the creation and supply of domestic drones to the front, and most importantly, will create conditions for the rapid……
3/ "Within the coordination headquarters for the production of drones, we worked with all Ukrainian UAV manufacturers. We are systematically moving towards solving issues, together with the Ministries of Defense, the Economy, the Strategy and Industry, and Economic Affairs and……
Read 5 tweets

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