February 05, 2024

How cheap drones are transforming warfare in Ukraine

Source: The Economist

Journalist: Shashank Joshi

The appeal of FPV drones is that they offer cheap, accurate firepower. Unguided artillery shells cost anywhere between $800 and $9,000. A GPS-guided shell is closer to $100,000, and a Javelin anti-tank missile around twice as much again. A simple FPV Pdrone costs perhaps $400. A typical Ukrainian assault group of 12 to 16 soldiers is now accompanied by almost the same number of drone operators, of whom half a dozen are FPV pilots, notes Franz-Stefan Gady, a military analyst who frequently visits the front lines. (The rest fly other sorts of drones, for tasks such as reconnaissance.)


In a one-week period in the autumn of 2023, Ukrainian drones took out 428 pieces of Russian equipment, including 75 tanks and 101 artillery pieces. Samuel Bendett of the Centre for Naval Analysis, an American think-tank, points to Russian front-line accounts that say the threat of drone attacks forces troops to disperse and move in small groups under the cover of darkness.

Read the full story and more from The Economist.


  • Franz-Stefan Gady

    Adjunct Senior Fellow, Defense Program

    Franz-Stefan Gady has advised militaries in Europe and the United States on structural reform and the future of high-intensity warfare. He is a former Senior Fellow with the I...

  • 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 ...