By Kendall McElroy
Within the last two weeks, it has become apparent to Ukrainian and U.S armed forces that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV’s), supplied to Russia by Iran, pose major threats for, not only those on the front lines, but civilians as well. “I’m really fed up of losing my friends,” explains Adriana Arekhta, a junior sergeant in the Ukrainian Army, “Sometimes I just say ‘happy birthday’ on social media, on Facebook, and the answer is: ‘he is dead.’”
Devastatingly, Irainian imports have been shipping Shahed and Mohajer combat drones to Russian troops through Ukrainian territory. Due to these drones being small, low altitude fliers, they are near impossible to track on radar. This resulted in hits on combat positions, demolishing tanks and armored vehicles and killing their passengers. Additionally, some of these UAVs hit civilian infrastructure, destroying parts of the port city Odesa.
Iran has been assisting in Russian war efforts against Ukraine for months, supplying hundreds of combat drones. Drones with the ability to supply munitions for radar station attacks, artillery, and additional military targets. During a nightly address, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy reported that the Ukrainian anti-aircraft forces had grounded over a dozen UAVs over Odesa and the eastern Dnipropetrovsk region. These drones were later identified as Mohajer-6 and Shahed-136 kamikazes, used to carry ammunition and possibly utilized as reconnaissance.
As much of an advantage the drones prove to be from the perspective of the Russian army, they aren’t a wholly perfect asset. U.S security officials have revealed that the imported drones have displayed a multitude of technical issues. The Post interviewed another allied security official, who confirmed, “There are a few bugs in the system. The Russians are not satisfied.”
To the credit of the Ukrainian military and their Western support, the U.S provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) that can project multiple rockets with precise measurements, effectively taking out Russian logistics suppliers and ammunition depots from around 50 miles away. According to Dmitri Alperovitch, a Silverado Policy Accelerator, the recent uptake in drone sightings is a reaction to these HIMARS, “The Russians have no way to limit the damage HIMARS are inflicting on them now. They hope attack drones can help.”
Still, Ukraine requires further artillery support due to some of the limitations of U.S supplied artillery. For example, Iranian UVAs have posed greater threats at night because U.S air defenses that don’t have night vision. Additionally, the drones provided by Washington being commercial systems prove to not be powerful enough to take down artillery and armored vehicles. Ukranians fighting on the front lines are pleading for more modern air defenses, like the Counter-Rocket, Mortar, and Artillery systems used by the U.S in Afghanistan. Junior Sergeant Arekhta explains, “I need to be in position against Russian helicopters on one side and Iranian drones came from another side. It’s very hard to close the huge area with Stingers, with other weapons that can hit these drones.”
However, these modern weapons and munitions may be little more than a pipe dream. Although Pentagon officials haven’t explicitly denied the Ukrainian military these weapons, they’ve counteractively insisted that the planes wouldn’t arrive for years, or until a political decision has been made on whether to or whether to not donate. Until then, the situation in Ukraine will continue to get more dire and urging officials to aid in the efforts defending Ukraine and supporting its people is the most people like us can do.