Russia has lost more than 2,900 drones in the Ukraine war, according to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. Ukrainian air-defense systems also intercepted more than 300 drones in May, according to Ukrainian Air Force data published on Telegram and social media.
Russia had already lost 2,476 drones by May 1, Ukraine said.
Some of the drones that Russia has lost in Ukraine are not necessarily downed by air defenses, and some of them are smaller surveillance drones.
The more dangerous drones that Russia has used are the Iranian-designed Shahed kamikaze drones that Moscow has been importing and using for the last year.
Russia increases its drone attacks on Kyiv
Russia launched another massive wave of attacks overnight between Saturday and Sunday, according to reports.
The Ukrainian Air Force publishes data on how many drones and missiles it intercepts. This data is usually published online and in various Ukrainian media and on a Telegram channel of the Ukrainian Air Force.
According to a review of the data, Ukraine has intercepted 309 drones during May. While some drones appear to have impacted Kyiv, most of them were intercepted. This illustrates that Ukrainian air-defense systems are becoming more proficient over time. Ukraine uses a variety of air defenses, with some of them supplied by the West, such as the Patriot and the IRIS-T.
The loss of so many drones by Russia would appear to be draining Moscow’s stockpile of Iranian-designed drones. This would be the case if the numbers are accurate and if Russia has not already acquired hundreds more drones. These are varieties of the Shahed 131 and Shahed 136.
Reports in February indicated that Russia wanted to manufacture these drones locally. It is unclear if that facility is up and running and how many drones it can produce.
These drones are relatively cheap to make, and it appears that Moscow’s use of them has aided Iran in increasing its economy of scale in terms of building large numbers of these delta-wing, one-way kamikaze drones.
Last year, Russia was said to have already used hundreds of these drones. If the data from the month of May are correct, this could have been the worst month for Russia’s Iranian drones since the start of the war.
In mid-May, the US indicated that Russia was seeking more drones from Iran. It had already used some 400 drones that were supplied by Tehran.
“Iran also continues to provide Russia with one-way attack UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles],” PBS quoted White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby as saying. “Since August, Iran has provided Russia with more than 400 UAVs primarily of the Shahed variety.”
Moscow’s massive attacks on Kyiv are mostly being countered by Ukraine’s air defenses. It is unclear what Russia may do next as it continues to deplete its stock of missiles and drones.
Russia turned to Iran for the drones initially because it wanted to wage war on the cheap. Moscow’s decision to carry out a war against cities in Ukraine, using drones indiscriminately against civilian urban areas, is a method that it apparently hoped would terrorize Ukraine.
Moscow’s drones haven’t worked. It also showcases the overall failure of Iran’s drones in general. Iranian drones can be intercepted by air-defense systems.
So far, there have been no updates to the drones that give them capabilities to evade or maneuver around the existing air defenses. The loss of so many Iranian-designed drones is evidence of this.