Ukraine touts effectiveness of sea drones in ongoing conflict with Russia

 August 18, 2023

In what could prove a serious dilemma for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian officials are touting the effectiveness of sea drones they claim have been used in attacks on enemy supply ships and infrastructure in recent months, as Breitbart reports.

The drones, which are said to be the proprietary creation of the Security Service of Ukraine, have reportedly been involved in numerous initiatives launched against Russian assets in and around the Black Sea including supply ships.

According to officials from the Security Service, known as the Ukrainian counterpart to America's FBI, the remote-controlled floating weaponry was conceived and produced without any assistance from the West or even from commercial entities.

Ukrainian officials declared, “Sea surface drones are a unique invention of the Security Service...[u]sing these drones we have conducted successful hits of the Crimean bridge in July 2023, the landing ship Olengorskiy Gornyak and the SIG oil tanker.”

According to the BBC, while there is no denying that aerial drones have played a significant role in the current conflict, it is the seaborne versions that could ultimately transform the way naval warfare is conducted in the future.

Sea drones are said to come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can be utilized for a range of tasks that include non-military ones.

However, they are proving extremely valuable in the context of the current war, given that they are capable of use in mine clearing work, conducting surveillance, or causing explosions near enemy assets such as ships.

Sidharth Kaushal, an expert from the Rusi think tank, told the BBC that some of the sea drones used by Ukraine are the result of crowdfunding efforts and have been made with “off-the-shelf” parts meant for commercial applications, not military ones.

Drones of the sort described by Ukrainian officials are estimated to cost roughly $250,000 apiece, and they have the added feature of rapid deployment capability without any need for a skilled crew.

The benefits of such technology are easy to understand, Kaushal noted, saying, “Even if you intercept a lot of low-cost objects, all you need is one to get through and damage a much more expensive asset, and the model has paid for itself.”

Indeed, growing numbers of military analysts have suggested that Ukraine's use of the affordable tools is presenting a threat to Russia of surprising seriousness and marks a watershed moment in naval warfare.

The drones are credited for impeding Russia's attempts to take complete control of the Black Sea, something that many would have believed difficult for a country that lacks a sizable navy of its own.

Despite such successes, Katarzyna Zysk of the Norwegian Institute of Defense Studies opined, “It's not a revolution as yet. We're still in an experimental phase.” Even so, she added, the use of sea drones is “pushing other navies to develop these kinds of systems and their operational practice.”

Ukraine, for its part, appears rather more confident about the immediate impact of the innovations that are afoot, pointedly predicting that the future for Russian interests and assets amid potential deployment of additional drones would be “exciting.”