Despite early failures, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are a significant part of the Russian military’s ongoing war against Ukraine. The commitment to robotics and autonomous weapons will continue to shape Moscow’s strategy for future wars, according to Samuel Bendett, adviser with CNA’s Strategy, Policy, Plans and Programs Center and Russia Studies Program.
- Both Ukraine and Russia are changing their tactics by incorporating more UAVs, said Bendett, and the drones and robotics in use “represent sort of a pinnacle of aerial warfare right now.”
- As Putin travels to Iran, U.S. intelligence suggests the country will supply Russia with hundreds of drones. Bendett said Iranian drones are relatively free of sanctions and able to operate in a complex environment.
- Most of the UAVs in Ukraine provide intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition for Russian weapons systems, and some are for combat, he said.