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Drones emerge as key players in global warfare strategies

Drones emerge as key players in global warfare strategies

Posted February. 08, 2024 07:35,   

Updated February. 08, 2024 07:35

The utilization of uncrewed aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, has become increasingly prominent in modern warfare, with notable applications in conflicts such as the Russia-Ukraine war, now entering its second year, and the Israel-Hamas conflict, which has extended its reach into the broader Middle East region.

In response to dwindling conventional weaponry, both Ukraine and Russia have actively embraced the deployment of drones due to their affordability and precision-strike capabilities. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has announced the establishment of a dedicated branch within the armed forces focused on drone operations. Simultaneously, Russia has initiated drone attacks targeting critical infrastructure in Ukraine.

The Middle East conflict saw Hamas initiating drone attacks on Israel and Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen launching drone assaults in the Red Sea. South Korea, facing increasing drone provocations from North Korea, is actively developing a drone defense structure.

● Zelensky proclaims to build a special unit dedicated to drones

With the Ukraine-Russia war entering its second year, President Zelensky sees drones as a pivotal factor in shifting the balance of power in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict. In a recent video message, he announced the signing of a bill to create a new armed forces branch dedicated explicitly to drone operations, expressing optimism about the rapid impact of the drone service. In December 2023, President Zelensky revealed Ukraine’s ambitious plan to develop one million drones.

Drones have proven to be crucial for Russia as well, with reports indicating their use in destroying dams, energy infrastructure, and tanks in Ukraine. Ukrainian news media Euromaidan Press reported that while Ukraine produces 50,000 EPV drones annually, Russian companies produce six times that number.

● Hamas’ drone destroyed Israel’s cutting-edge weapons

The Middle East conflict has entered a new phase of warfare dominated by drones. The Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, prominently featured the use of drones. Israel’s “Smart Fence” Remote Control Weapon System, designed to suppress Hamas provocations preemptively, was demolished by a small explosive dropped by a drone.

Recognizing the significance of drone warfare, South Korea established a drone operations command under the Ministry of Defense in September 2023. This move was prompted by North Korea’s uncrewed aerial vehicle incursion into South Korean airspace in December 2022. Defense Minister Shin Won-sik emphasized the game-changing nature of drones on the battlefield, citing their effectiveness in the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas conflicts during his visit to the drone operations command in January.

Eun-A Cho achim@donga.com