Unmanned aerial vehicles in armed conflicts

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Russia has more than doubled the production of unique systems to deter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Over the last year, the demand for such systems has quadrupled. As a consequence, private companies, particularly those in the oil and gas sector, are seeking to protect themselves from increasing drone attacks by the Ukrainian army. The main targets of these attacks are oil refineries.

Military drones have significantly changed the way warfare is conducted in Africa. In recent years, African governments have acquired a greater number of unmanned aircraft. However, the number of civilian casualties has also increased, from 149 people in 2020 to 1,418 last year. The drone models used by most African governments are much cheaper than fighter jets, such as the Iranian Shaheds (costing several hundred thousand dollars), Chinese Wing Loong II ($1-2 million) or Turkish TB2 Bayraktar (up to $6 million). However, the cost to citizens is much higher.

Due to the high prices and insufficient effectiveness of American drones, Ukraine is increasingly choosing unmanned aerial vehicles from China. Despite China’s close alliance with Russia, Kyiv has found a way to import tens of thousands of drones from there, along with the necessary parts. Many American commercial drones are much more expensive than the Chinese model and are too easy to detect by Russian defenses.

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