Espreso. Global

Ukraine needs to scale up drone production amid concerns of lagging behind Russia

30 November, 2023 Thursday
19:14

Ukraine currently produces many times fewer FPV drones than Russia, marking a systemic problem with no easy solution

Defense Express analyzed the FPV-drone production rates in Ukraine.

The significance of FPV drones on the battlefield is unquestionable, and the advantage lies with the side that can supply them in greater numbers, much like the importance of ammunition. In contrast to the Western artillery's superiority in range, accuracy, and power, both Ukraine and Russia assemble FPV drones from virtually identical Chinese components.

Currently, Ukraine is trailing behind Russia in the production of FPV drones, as reported by Espreso, citing Ukrainian Forbes. DroneSpace founder Maksym Sheremet revealed that Ukraine produces approximately 50,000 FPV drones monthly, while Russia's production reaches around 300,000. Although these figures might appear inflated, one Ukrainian company, Taf Drones, aimed to produce 12,000 drones in December, according to the outlet.

The discrepancy in production favors Russia, and this is attributed to the Kremlin's concerted efforts and financial investments in solving the FPV drone production challenge over the past year. Russia has adopted a systematic approach, involving both state-sponsored initiatives and grassroots enthusiasts, even reportedly utilizing bread factories for production.

Regular reports from Russian state media on the supply, testing, or initiation of FPV drone production, such as Vorobey, VT-40, Gortenzia-10, Lun-7, Bekas, and Upyr, highlight Russia’s prioritization of this technology. The Russian Ministry of Trade is executing a "national project" with a goal to develop unmanned aircraft systems by 2030, projecting a need for 1 million specialists, which constitutes 0.68% of the total population.

For Ukraine to achieve a similar effect, it would require about 2.5% of its population, posing a challenge in terms of both human and financial resources. The manual nature of FPV drone assembly, involving intricate micro-soldering of numerous contacts, exacerbates the issue. The current shortage of specialists in Ukraine poses a significant hurdle, estimated at 2,000 engineers by Vadym Yunyk, President of the Technological Forces of Ukraine Association of Drone Manufacturers and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the defense technology company FRDM.

While Ukraine has approximately 200 drone manufacturers, they only meet 10-15% of the total demand, as mentioned by Liubov Shypovych, founder of the Dignitas Foundation. The Ukrainian army's requirement is 200,000 FPV drones per month, equating to a yearly demand of 2.4 million, mirroring the need for artillery shells.

Despite the potential idealization of these figures, the reality underscores the necessity for large-scale production. The following fact should be considered: one unit can launch up to 15 FPV drones in one day or one operation. And the average rate of use of FPV drones per month for a brigade is 1,000 units, without taking into account the fact that it is necessary to have a first-line reserve and strategic stocks. However, FPV drones, even in the millions, cannot replace other types of ammunition, emphasizing the continuous growth in demand. Scaling up production through automation is crucial, necessitating the establishment of an actual "FPV drone factory" with conveyor belts and robotic lines. While this process is time-consuming, it is imperative to address the escalating demand for FPV drones until full-scale automation becomes a reality, Defense Express concludes.

  • Earlier, the media reported that Ukrainian companies produce about 50,000 FPV drones a month, which is only 10-15% of the army's needs. At the same time, Russians produce six times more drones.

  • Ukrainian Armed Forces serviceman Yevhen Ievlev discussed whether Ukraine can achieve parity with Russians on drones.

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