In Fight Against Russia, Ukraine's Drones Capabilities Are Effective, but Limited

Israeli expert says Kyiv's use of Turkish-made UAV's produce 'very accurate hits,' but are not the game-changer they appear to be

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol
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A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone flies at Gecitkale military airbase near Famagusta in Northern Cyprus, in 2019.
A Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drone flies at Gecitkale military airbase near Famagusta in Northern Cyprus, in 2019.Credit: BIROL BEBEK - AFP
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

Ukraine's is making good use of its drone supply in repelling Russian forces, an Israeli expert told Haaretz on Wednesday, but it may not be enough to turn the tide of battle.

According to Tal Inbar, a senior research fellow at the U.S.-based Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, video footage of attacks against Russian vehicles released by the Ukrainians appear to show “very accurate hits, which was no surprise.” But footage of downed Ukrainian drones posted on social media also shows that they are no panacea to Kyiv’s defense woes.

A Ukrainian drone strike.

They are “quite effective but limited because of the small quantity” possessed by the Ukrainian armed forces, and their use is very limited. "It’s not a case like we saw in Nagorno-Karabakh with [extensive] use of Azerbaijani drones,” he said, referring to the 2021 conflict over the disputed territory between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

In a recent Facebook post, the Ukrainian Air Force chief of staff described the Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones as “life-giving." However, “it’s not a game changer,” Inbar cautioned. “From what we saw, they are effective, but we don’t know the quantity of destroyed vehicles on the Russian side.”

Israel’s Yediot Aharonot daily reported on Tuesday that a Ukrainian delegation was denied permission to negotiate the purchase of Israeli UAVs during a visit last August, leading it to turn to Turkey for additional aircraft.

Turkey has sold Kyiv several shipments of Bayraktar TB2 drones, which it had in the past deployed against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. According to Defense News, Kyiv bought six Bayraktar TB2 drones in 2019, announcing the pending purchase of an additional 24 late last year.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, said on Sunday that the unmanned aircraft were very efficient in the country's battle against invading Russian forces, and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Wednesday that his country was due to receive another shipment of the Turkish drones.

Regarding claims that the Bayraktar TB2 is based on Israeli technology transferred during the period before Jerusalem and Ankara fell out, Inbar said that this is false. “It's not Israeli. It’s not even remotely close to anything Israel is manufacturing,” he said. Dozens of manufacturers are all building "similar configurations, because of the aerodynamics,” he clarified.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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