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Minister: Ukraine to produce thousands of long-range drones in 2024

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 12, 2024 3:01 PM 2 min read
Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov at the Diia Summit in Kyiv, Dec. 19, 2023. (Mykhailo Fedorov/Twitter)
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Ukraine has plans to produce thousands of long-range attack drones in 2024 capable of hitting targets deep in Russia, said Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov in an interview with Reuters published on Feb. 12.

Ukraine has intensified its efforts to ramp up domestic production of attack drones, a critical tool on the battlefield, aiming to manufacture 1 million drones this year.

Multiple drone strikes have been reported on oil depots and refineries in Russia in January, including Bryansk, Oryol, and Leningrad oblasts.

Ukraine often does not publicly comment on strikes within Russia, but Fedorov told Reuters that the spate of strikes on oil facilities "reflected the government's progress in rapidly deregulating the drone market and increasing funding for it."

Fedorov said that up to 10 companies are involved in producing long-range attack drones.

"The category of long-range kamikaze drones is growing, with a range of 300, 500, 700, and 1,000 kilometers. Two years ago, this category did not exist ... at all," Fedorov said.

The minister added that most companies producing long-range drones are privately owned, unlike in Russia.

The scale of drone manufacturing and delivery to the troops at the front has increased 120 times in 2023, Fedorov said.

Despite efforts to cut red tape and decrease associated delays, Ukraine's logistical system has struggled to cope with the massive growth in production.

"In December alone, drone deliveries were 50 times higher than in the entire 2022. Just imagine, the system was not prepared for that, and I think the logistics did not realize that such volumes were possible," Fedorov said.

"We need to act in an anti-bureaucratic way. This is the essence of a breakthrough in the war of technology," he added.

President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree in February to create a new branch of Ukraine's Armed Forces specifically dedicated to drones.

The Unmanned Systems Forces will reportedly focus specifically on improving Ukraine's work with drones, creating special drone-specific units, ramping up training, systemizing their use, increasing production, and pushing innovation.

Zelensky said in January that one of the main goals for 2024 was outpacing Russia in the production of drones.  

Deadly drone arms race intensifies as Ukraine, Russia embrace the future of war
At this stage of a war that could last years more, both Ukraine and Russia are getting serious with their drone game: ramping up production while always looking to come up with new innovations.
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