Ukrainian soldiers use store-bought drones for their eyes and ears in trenches, or fly them over Russian tanks and drop grenades through open hatches.
Meanwhile, back in Kyiv Hordes of Iranian-made kamikaze drones are causing misery and keeping citizens in the dark.
What are the main types of drones used in Ukraine? Will America send dreaded reapers and marauders to the battlefield?
Sky News observed some of the drones being flown by both sides and answered some key questions.
Store-bought drones give soldiers an edge in the trenches
Stuart Ray of McKenzie Intelligence Services told Sky News the drones that Ukrainian soldiers buy in stores every day are used as their “eyes and ears” to great effect.
Soldiers fighting in the trenches can use drones—often the Chinese-made DJI series—to look ahead and gain a huge advantage.
“What you’ve really got over the last 20 years is an expansion of what would have been quite a strategic or operational level asset to a tactical level,” he said.
What’s more, social media is full of videos of cheap drones dropping grenades from the open hatches of Russian tanks, causing huge secondary explosions when the ammunition inside ignites.
“The AK-47 of Drones” has a song named after it – how powerful is the Bayraktar TB2?
Made by the Turkish company Baykar, the Bayraktar TB2 is the largest known drone used by the Ukrainian military, using laser-guided bombs for surveillance missions and surgical strikes.
In the early months of the war, there was a sense that the Bayraktars could be a “game changer,” said Sarah Kreps, a Cornell University professor and an expert on drone warfare, but she said that was because Russia Failure to establish air superiority.
She told Sky News: “What happened was the spring thaw and the Russian convoys got stuck and these TB2s came in and started taking out the Russian tanks.
“But then the Russians found this out, and they started developing better air defenses and shooting down the TB2.”
Compared to the multipurpose AK-47 rifle, the Bayraktar is believed to be involved Sunk Russia’s Moscow flagship in April By distracting the ship’s radar system.
“It’s a terrible weapon” – Shahed 136 made in Iran
They have disrupted Ukraine’s power supply in droves, and their effectiveness is prompting militaries around the world to reassess their drone defenses.
The Shahed 136 loitering munition, manufactured by the Iranian company HESA, is much smaller than the TB2 and fired multiple times from the rack in an attempt to overwhelm the air defenses.
Their numbers make it difficult to shoot them all down, and the kamikaze drones that do pass then detonate on impact.
They cost around $20,000 (£17,714) and are also considerably cheaper than their Turkish counterparts.
“You don’t know where they’re going to attack, when they’re going to attack,” intelligence expert Mr Ray told Sky News.
“It’s a terrible weapon.”
Ukrainian version of Shahed 136 – Portable Switchblade loitering ammo
U.S. pledges to supply Ukraine with switchblade loitering ammunition — another kamikaze drone.
They are light and small enough to be carried by an individual and launched into the sky using a tube.
Like the Shahed 136, the Switchblade can be guided to a target and explode on impact.
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Drones… ships?New Frontiers in Drone Warfare
It remains shrouded in mystery, but there are reports that unmanned ships were used in recent attacks on Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.
Russia said the attack near the Crimea port of Sevastopol involved 16 drones and damaged two ships.
An adviser to Ukraine’s interior ministry gave conflicting accounts, claiming that “careless handling of explosives” caused four warships to explode.
The exact nature of the drones used remains unclear, but it shows how the drones pose a threat to multiple vectors, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. and drone operations expert Paul Lushenko.
He told Sky News: “It’s just another axis of approach that brings more vulnerability to Russia.
“There are only so many target acquisition systems on even these beautiful ships these days.
“So when you have a lot of capabilities, how do you prioritize goals?”
Will the US send its deadly Reaper and Predator drones to Ukraine?
The MQ9-Reaper and MQ-1 Predator have been controversial for their use worldwide in US counterterrorism operations and are among the deadliest drones ever built.
There has been speculation about whether and when hunting drones will be donated to Kyiv since the outbreak of the Ukrainian war, but so far nothing has been seen.
Lieutenant Colonel Lushenko said there were many reasons, including the mistaken belief by many that they were only useful for counter-terrorism.
There are also questions about whether Reaper and Predator will survive a high-intensity conflict, he said, in addition to fears of high-tech drones being shot down and analyzed by Russian forces.
Others worry that sending the reapers would be seen by Russia as an escalation, he said.
Former intelligence officer Philip Ingram told Sky News that another concern about sending Reaper or Predator is the propaganda value to Russia.
He argued that if and when it was shot down, it would be paraded by Moscow and used to justify the Ukrainian war and accuse the West of direct involvement.
So there are no reapers or looters in Ukraine? unnecessary.
Lieutenant Colonel Lushenko, who edited the book Drones and the Global Order, said: “This may require a game-changing campaign or event from Russia, and then an escalation to (Reaper and Predator) drones may be more popular. level.
“So God forbid the use of tactical nuclear weapons in a conflict, I think by then all the bets are off and you’ll see some escalation of capabilities in other areas or what was previously thought to be.”