Samuel Bendett, an expert Russian drones and adviser to both the CNA and CNAS, told Forbes that at present Russian FPVs are mainly used by irregular units from the Russian-controlled DNR/LNR region and contractors such as Wagner.
“The official military units have fewer FPV units in service, their use has not yet been reflected in the official combat regulations or instructions,” says Bendett. “There were many FPVs and quadcopters presented at the ARMY 2023 last month, taking the spotlight away from the usual large-scale UCAVs. But the Russian MoD has too much invested in legacy UAVs and drone systems already to quickly adapt.”
All these new capabilities offer huge potential, but as Bendett explains, the technology is moving too fast for the Russian military’s sluggish pace of adaptation.
“There is no official pilot training in military schools. There is training across certain military districts or bases, but there is no official MOD directive to implement this drone technology across services,” says Bendett. “FPV combat experience is not shared widely and evenly, while, according to many Russian commentators, the tactical situation is constantly changing due to the rapid FPV developments.”
There is still some doubt over how committed the Russian military establishment is to FPV drones, and in the meantime soldiers still have to procure their own, as they are not issued through normal channels.
“The relationship between the official MoD offices, the military-industrial complex and the volunteers is rather tenuous still, even in light of FPV successes already visible at the front,” says Bendett. “This relationship is still evolving, but it’s likely that volunteers will continue to deliver their own FPVs to the front for some time.”
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