September 18, 2023

China Has Hobbled Russia's Drone Industry

Source: Newsweek

Journalist: Ellie Cook

Beijing's ban on larger drones and some components needed to build uncrewed technology is "now a hotly debated topic" across Russian sectors and organizations involved with Moscow's drone programs, according to Samuel Bendett, of the U.S.-based Center for Naval Analyses.

"The real impact of this ban on the Russian market mostly boils down to the jump in prices for existing and available Chinese drones in and components already in Russia," Bendett told Newsweek on Monday. In the long term, Russia's domestic drone industry could step in and replace Chinese imports, he suggested.

"This is a very interesting example of how China has a tight grip on the technology that make drones possible," said U.K.-based drone expert Steve Wright. Drones need a "vast amount of electronics, and the Russians have tried, and failed, to develop an internal capability," he told Newsweek.

"In short, the Chinese have stranglehold on much of the market," for both Russia and Western countries, he added.

China's ban is not currently affecting "small DJI-type drones," Bendett added, referring to one of China's best-known commercial drone giants.

However, it could impact the import of larger, heavier agricultural drones that Russia has used in Ukraine, Bendett said. "The lack of certain components may have a great effect, but there are many alternate supply routes, legal and gray schemes used by Russians to procure what they need," he added.

Read the full story and more from Newsweek.


  • Samuel Bendett

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Technology and National Security Program

    Samuel Bendett is an Adviser with CNA Strategy, Policy, Plans and Programs Center (SP3), where he is a member of the Russia Studies Program. His work involves research on the ...