Will The Drone War Come Home? Ukraine And The Weaponization Of Commercial Drones

Hours after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense appealed for civilian drone owners to donate or fly their commercially bought drones to help defend Kyiv. Donations poured in and consumer unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) took to the skies amid Russia’s advance. Throughout the war, commercial UAVs have been used by Ukrainian regular and special operations forces, Belarusian partisans, Russian infantry, and Russian-led separatists; they demonstrate the challenges, opportunities, and threats emerging from the proliferation of consumer drones. The most common are small, light, and inexpensive rotary-wing quadcopters produced by the Chinese drone maker DJI.

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) and homemade drones can offer low-cost and low-risk intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities and are commonly used for target acquisition and for directing artillery or mortar fire.

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Source: Modern War Institute