Trench warfare, relentless artillery, gains measured in meters, and heavy casualties on both Sides. The battlefields of Ukraine resemble World War I, but with a new and terrifying reality – the constant hum of drones, harbingers of death and destruction that are constantly watching from above.
The Ukraine war has essentially become “the first world war of the 21st century with ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance],” Mark Kantian, a retired US Marine Corps colonel and senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told.
As fighting rages in Ukraine's Donetsk region, Russian forces near the city of Bakhmut are said to be exhausted. Ukrainian troops rely on their air reconnaissance. A drone unit known as The Wings of Madyar provides real-time information to Ukrainian artillery batteries. pic.twitter.com/xJhysmsxIb
— Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (@RFERL) December 30, 2022
Both Ukraine and Russia have used drones of all shapes and sizes to spy on each other and strike targets on a scale never seen before, and this is changing the face of warfare. Drones are being used to locate enemy positions and deliver direct fire, to hit and destroy buildings in “kamikaze” attacks, and to drop bombs on tanks.
With much of the fighting taking place in rural areas that are often dangerous to cross over large open fields – the modern equivalent of WWI’s dreaded “No Man’s Land” – drones have proven to be extremely useful and deadly tools. Both sides are using drones equipped with cameras or other sensors that provide a Livestream that can be viewed on a laptop or digital tablet to flush out the enemy and coordinate attacks remotely.
Ukraine’s Air Force says it shot down six of Russia’s Iranian Shahed-136 kamikaze drones and one Su-25 in the south. But two Shahed-136 drones did strike a building in Odesa, destroying it and killing one person. Video below shows the drones over the city. pic.twitter.com/mLR4d2H0kd
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) September 23, 2022
Drones play an important role in adjusting artillery fire and confirming whether targets have been hit or destroyed. They have eyes in the sky on the battlefields of Ukraine that are making the artillery even more deadly.
- (Photo: Ukrainian soldiers work in their artillery unit in the direction of Marinka, 15 January 2023.Diego Herrera Carcedo/Getty Images)