Land Forces 24 728x90 WEB 240202 01Ukraine currently has one of the world’s largest drone fleets due to its ongoing conflict with Russia. These drones are heavily concentrated at the low end of the spectrum, mainly off-the-shelf small quadcopters. At the start of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022, there were five to six drone manufacturers, while by the late summer of 2023 there are several dozen firms manufacturing drones across a broad spectrum of types including tactical UAS and MALE UAS.

After the start of the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War, NATO countries have made extensive drone donations to Ukraine. Norway donated 1,000 Teledyne FLIR Defense Black Hornet 3 micro-drone systems to Ukraine; the UK is also reported to have donated the Black Hornet as well. The UK has donated several types of drones to Ukraine include the Malloy Aeronautics T-150 heavy-lift drone. Ukraine has obtained the EOS C VTOL mini-UAS from Estonia. The “Come-Back-Alive” charity in Ukraine purchased 300 drones from Latvia in July 2023. Ukraine purchased about 20 Swarmly H6 and H10 Poseidon Mk II drones from Cyprus in 2022. The Czech Republic donated Orlik and Primoco drones to Ukraine in 2022. Denmark donated some Penguin drones to Ukraine in 2022. France delivered about 150 Delair VTOL drones to Ukraine in September 2023, apparently including their DT46.

The United States has delivered a variety of drones to Ukraine since 2022. The September 2022 aid package included the Scan Eagle and RQ-20 Puma. The US has also provided the FLIR Systems Black Hornet micro-UAS and the some Skydio mini-UAS. The US has discussed the provision of “heavy attack drones” that were expected to include either the MQ-1C Gray Eagle or MQ-9 Reaper; neither type had been provided as of the time this report was written. The United States has also provided a variety of loitering munitions including the AeroVironment Switchblade 300, Switchblade 600 and the Phoenix Ghost.

Ukraine purchased 33 Vector VTOL UAS systems from Quantum Systems in Germany in August 2022, followed by a second order for 105 in January 2023 and 300 more in May 2023. The German government already has agreed to pay €20 million towards these purchases. Each system costs about €180,000 ($195,600) each according to German press accounts.

The Ukrainians tailored their drone force to the battlefield circumstances, favoring large numbers of cheap mini-drones that were expendable, and generally shunning larger drones.

The full extent of Ukrainian drone procurement during the war is not known with any precision. Open-source intelligence sites such as Oryx have pegged Ukrainian drone losses at over 300, but these tallies only count drones spotted on social media; they do not count min-drones such as Mavic quadcopters. The British think tank RUSI stated in the summer of 2023 that Ukraine was losing 10,000 drones per month. When pressed on the issue, the RUSI analysts acknowledged that this was simply an estimate and was somewhere in the 5,000 to 10,000 range.

This figure includes a very large number of FPV kamikaze drones, which as has been noted earlier in this study, are not true drones but rather are loitering munitions based on drone technology. How large a fraction of Ukrainian drone inventory is the FPV drones? They are probably 80-90% of the “10,000 drones” cited by RUSI. In September 2023, the Ukrainian organization “Army of Drones” announced that in the week of 18-25 September, their drones knocked out 405 Russian targets. Aside from individual high-value targets such as tanks, artillery, and supply dumps, this included 68 Russian troops. Since multiple troops may have been hit by a single drone strike, we’ll lower the kill claim to 350 targets. Over the course of a month, this would translate to 1,400 targets hit.

In a press interview in late September 2023, Maria Berlinska, head of the “Aerial Intelligence Support Center” and the “Invisible Battalion” project outlined future Ukrainian drone requirements. According to Berlinska, Ukraine would like to manufacture 90,000 to 95,000 FPV drones per month, and 1,000-1,500 of the larger strike drones such as the Bober. The need for mini-quadcopter drones is around 20,000 to 25,000 drones, especially those with thermal imagers. The requirement for artillery spotter drones such as the Leleka is in the “thousands”. Large multi-copter drones for delivering mines and bombing Russian targets are needed in the “hundreds”.

Ukrainian monthly drone expenditure now is probably on the order of 7,500 FPV drones, 2,000 mini quadcopter drones and 50 fixed-wing mini- and small tactical drones and multi-copter drones. So annual expenditure is probably in the order of 90,000 FPV kamikaze drones, 25,000 mini-quadcopter drones and 1,000 to 1,500 larger drones. As mentioned above, the “Army of Drones” effort has an objective of 180,000 to 200,000 drones in 2023, of which probably 80% are expendable FPV kamikaze drones.


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  1. The article makes no mention of the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 which was used to great effect in breaking the siege of Kiev and the sinking of the Moskva


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