Officials in Ukraine have announced the updated tally of the nation’s Army of Drones campaign, reporting over 1,600 UAVs have been bought and deployed for defensive purposes using funds donated to the aerial cause since its launch seven months ago.
Ukraine Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov said the nearly $90 million that donors around the world have contributed to the Army of Drones had enabled the purchase and deployment of what the broader United24 fundraising campaign listed as 1,617 craft by defense forces. That came within the total of over $271 million in United24 donations that have facilitated the procurement of an array of non-lethal equipment and humanitarian materials.
Speaking at the “UAV Production: Opportunities and Challenges” meeting in Kyiv recently, Fedorov – who also acts as Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation – said 83 drones had just been sent to defenders in the besieged city of Bakhmut. Those included DJI Matrice RTK 300 and Mavic 3 Fly More Combo craft, and unspecified models by Autel.
“Thanks to the Army of Drones project, within the framework of the UNITED24 platform, we provide our military with the best ‘birds’ and stimulate the development of Ukrainian UAV manufacturers,” Fedorov told the gathering. “During the seven months of the project, at the request of the military, almost 1,600 drones worth UAH 3.3 billion have already been contracted. Some of them are drones by Ukrainian manufacturers.”
The remarkably effective use of UAVs by Ukraine’s defense forces helped to mitigate the strikes and Russian advances in the early phases of the invasion, and thanks in part to additional craft bought under the Army of Drones campaign have allowed its army to turn the momentum and take back land in the nation’s east.
Kyiv and other major cities have come under merciless attacks by missiles and Iran-made Shahed loitering UAVs fired by Moscow since before New Year’s. In response, Ukraine army and government officials have revealed the nation is expected to produce its own drones capable of taking those incoming weapons out before they can strike their targets.
Doing so, Fedorov noted that – in contrast to the often defensive uses of consumer drones Ukraine has deployed – the new military-grade UAVs may also offer the nation’s army an additional offensive weapon.
“The next stage, now that we are more or less equipped with reconnaissance drones, is strike drones,” Fedorov said. “These are both exploding drones and drones that fly up to three to 10 kilometers and hit targets.”
Although it’s still unclear when Ukraine will be able to produce the entirely new aerial system amid wartime privations, Fedorov indicated their introduction may come sooner than later.
“I can say already that the situation regarding drones will change drastically in February or March,” he said.