The fact that small Russian units have been so regularly ambushed in the early days of the war indicates they weren’t using small drones for surveillance and reconnaissance, in effect ignoring their own doctrine and training, said SAMUEL BENDETT, an adviser with CNA’s Russia Studies Program and adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
“They were supposed to have [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] ISR assets overhead,” Bendett said. While the Russian ground forces are still making “strange mistakes and errors, we are starting to see evidence of Russian UAVs as ISR assets” helping them out over the past several days.
The Russian defense ministry — possibly trying to match the epic videos of Ukrainian Bayraktar drones wiping out Russian armor — has released two videos of their Orion mid-range combat drone firing missiles at Ukrainian targets. “They're doing sort of a piecemeal PR by showing that an Orion drone is capable of striking targets,” Bendett said. But it’s still not clear how many drones Russia is flying, or why they don’t seem to be feeding useful intel back to the forces on the ground who continue to be surprised, and attacked, by the Ukrainians.
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