Homemade, Cheap and Lethal, Attack Drones Are Vital to Ukraine

A cheap drone destroying a far more expensive armored personnel carrier is a striking example of asymmetric warfare, used to overcome an enemy’s technological or numerical advantages. And despite the influx of Western weapons, Ukrainian forces remain outgunned by the Russians.

“The Ukrainian army should use unusual, asymmetrical tools of war,” said Serhiy Hrabsky, a retired army colonel and commentator on the war for Ukrainian media.

He drew a parallel to the roadside bombs that insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan used, to devastating effect, against the U.S. military, which called them improvised explosive devices. Ukraine, Colonel Hrabsky said, is using “improvised kamikaze drones.”

He added that “the art of war is not static.”

The experience of flying with virtual reality goggles, providing an immersive view from the drone’s camera, is like playing a high-stress video game. The missions are far from risk-free for the pilots. The short range of the drones while carrying explosive loads — about four miles, typically — means the pilots must fly from trenches at or near the front line, where they are vulnerable to artillery and snipers.

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