An aerial view of two tanks in the woods.

Innovation: How the Ukrainian Army is Redefining Drone Warfare

The Army Must Leverage Drone Technology and Feedback from Ukraine

NOTE: This article is not an endorsement of any particular tactic, or military strategy currently employed by the Ukrainian Army.


Drone warfare has become an integral part of modern military strategies, providing tactical advantages and changing the dynamics of traditional warfare. The recent incident involving a Ukrainian military drone successfully neutralizing Russian tanks highlights the growing significance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combat situations. This article aims to explore the various aspects of drone warfare, with a focus on the Ukrainian military’s utilization of UAVs and their tactical applications.


Innovation has always been the driving force behind progress, and nowhere is this more evident than warfare. As conflicts around the world continue to evolve, so too do the strategies and technologies used on the battlefield. One particular area that has seen a remarkable transformation is drone warfare, which has revolutionized the way armies engage with their adversaries. The Ukrainian Army’s recent encounter with a Russian tank highlight just how much the landscape has changed.

A Game-Changing Encounter: The Ukrainian Army vs Russian Tanks

The recent encounter between the Ukrainian Army’s 30th Mechanized Brigade and Russian tanks exemplifies the game-changing nature of drone warfare. In this particular incident, a grenade-armed quadcopter drone was able to neutralize a multi-million-dollar tank with a grenade successfully. Let that sink in. Not a smart, precision laser-guided weapon, lasers, or the Bat signal high atop an art-deco metropolis skyscraper (Commissioner Gordon’s daily step goals in bananas). No, the pilot expertly understood the tank’s speed, current atmospherics, and the lead time needed to release a grenade. We could start highlighting the importance of marksmanship, but we will save that for another day.

This encounter highlights the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of drones compared to traditional armored vehicles. While tanks have long been considered formidable assets on the battlefield, they are now vulnerable to attacks from small drones that cost only a fraction of their price. On a similar note, if armored vehicles are susceptible to attack, dismounted troops need to improve their dimensional situational awareness and tips, tactics, and procedures (TTPs) regarding drones. Gone are the days when armored vehicles held an impenetrable advantage on the battlefield. The rise of small drones capable of dropping grenades and explosives has completely altered the dynamics of warfare. These nimble and cost-effective machines now pose the biggest threat to both sides. This highly disruptive development has forced armies worldwide to rethink their strategies and adapt to this new reality.

The Changing Landscape of Warfare: The Impact of Drone Technology in Warfare

Drone technology has had a profound impact on the landscape of warfare. Since the mid-90s, General Atomics developed the MQ-1 Predator for the United States Air Force, later used in the Global War on Terror (GWOT) (United States Air Force 2017). Their ability to fly over enemy lines and gather intelligence became an invaluable asset for ground forces and planners. They provide a unique perspective previously only possible through manned aircraft or satellites. This development allowed military forces to gain a tactical advantage by having real-time information on enemy movements and positions. Furthermore, drones have also changed the way wars are fought by introducing new tactics and strategies. The use of small drones, such as quadcopters, has disrupted the traditional balance of power on the battlefield. These nimble machines are capable of dropping grenades and explosives, posing a significant threat to armored vehicles.

How Is the Ukrainian Military Innovating Drone Warfare?

The Ukrainian military has embraced the use of drones to enhance their capabilities on the battlefield. These unmanned aerial vehicles provide valuable intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities, allowing Ukrainian forces to gather real-time information about enemy movements and positions. Additionally, drones can be equipped with weapons, such as grenades, to engage enemy targets effectively.

Reusable Bomber Models: Maximizing Efficiency and Effectiveness

Using drones in the U.S. Army as reusable bomber models represents a significant leap in military strategy and resource management. By capitalizing on the advanced technology of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the Army can perform bombing missions efficiently and effectively. These drones, designed for multiple deployments, reduce the risks to human pilots and enable precise strikes on high-value targets with minimal collateral damage. The ability to reuse these drones means that the Army can maintain a constant state of readiness and adapt quickly to evolving combat scenarios without the downtime associated with deploying manned aircraft.

Moreover, the strategic employment of reusable drones ensures that the Army can carry out prolonged operations. Since these systems require less logistical support than traditional manned aircraft, they can be deployed at a fraction of the cost and more frequently. This persistent presence in contested areas deters potential adversaries and provides the Army with invaluable real-time intelligence, enhancing decision-making processes and overall battlefield awareness.

The advantages of reusing drones include the following:

  1. Risk Reduction: Drones eliminate the need for pilots to enter hostile environments, reducing casualties.
  2. Cost Efficiency: Operating drones is more cost-effective than manned aircraft, as they require less fuel and maintenance and do not require life-support systems.
  3. Platform Maturity: Drone technology stabilized over the past few years, generating a solid supply chain, and provides military forces the opportunity to purchase, train, and master the system quickly.
  4. Operational Readiness: Drones can be rapidly deployed and redeployed, ensuring consistent availability of aerial support.
  5. Precision Strikes: Advanced drone targeting systems lead to high precision in bombing runs, minimizing unintended damage and increasing mission success rates.

The Ukrainian Army has also embraced reusable bomber models as a means of maximizing efficiency and effectiveness in drone warfare. By deploying these drones in large numbers, they can overwhelm enemy defenses and create chaos on the battlefield. These reusable bomber models are capable of carrying a variety of payloads, including explosives and grenades. They can be programmed to strike specific targets or provide cover for ground troops during an assault.

An aerial view of a fire burning in a field.

Expendable First-Person-View Models: Gathering Intel on The Front Lines

The U.S. Army can significantly enhance its intelligence-gathering capabilities in high-risk areas and combat zones using drones equipped with First-Person-View (FPV) technology as expendable assets. Drone operators pilot these FPV UAVs remotely, providing real-time video feed to the operator, allowing immediate reconnaissance of enemy positions, movements, and fortifications from a safe distance. The expendable nature of these drones means soldiers can use them in the most dangerous and contested environments without the fear of significant financial loss or endangering personnel. By sending these drones into areas too risky for manned aircraft or ground forces, the Army can gain critical insights into enemy operations, leading to more informed decision-making and strategic planning.

Furthermore, the military can deploy FPV drones quickly and navigate through complex terrain, such as urban environments or rugged landscapes, where traditional surveillance methods may be less effective or infeasible. These drones’ agility and small size make them less conspicuous, allowing them to blend into the surroundings and reduce the likelihood of detection by hostile forces. This enables the U.S. Army to maintain a tactical advantage by continually updating its situational awareness and adapting to changes on the battlefield, ultimately increasing the safety and success rate of military operations. Gathering intelligence is crucial in any military operation, and drones have revolutionized this aspect of warfare. The Ukrainian Army has recognized the value of expendable first-person-view models for gathering intel on the front lines. This information is then relayed back to command centers, allowing leaders to make informed decisions based on current conditions.

Drones vs Armored Vehicles: Redefining the Balance of Power

The U.S. Army can redefine the balance of power in combat scenarios by strategically using drones against enemy armored vehicles. The Army can enhance its offensive capabilities against more heavily armored adversaries by integrating drone technology with ground operations. Drones equipped with anti-armor weaponry or capable of laser targeting for precision-guided munitions can provide infantry units with a significant tactical advantage. The ability of drones to conduct surveillance and launch attacks from a distance alters the dynamics on the battlefield, as armored vehicles, traditionally dominant in ground combat due to their protective capabilities and firepower, now face threats from an agile and difficult-to-detect enemy in the sky.

Incorporating drones into infantry operations not only levels the playing field but also offers a variety of strategic benefits. Soldiers can deploy drones swiftly to identify and engage enemy armor before it reaches the front lines, reducing the risk to infantry forces and disrupting enemy advances. By exploiting the element of surprise and delivering precise strikes, drones can neutralize critical enemy assets, shifting the momentum of battle in favor of the U.S. Army. This modern approach to combat diminishes the traditional reliance on direct engagements with armored forces and opens up new possibilities for maneuver warfare and asymmetrical tactics.

Advantages of ground combat troops using drones to disable or destroy enemy armored vehicles include:

  1. Enhanced Situational Awareness: Drones provide real-time intelligence, allowing infantry to make informed decisions about the location and movement of enemy armor.
  2. Increased Standoff Distance: Troops can engage targets safely, minimizing the risk to personnel and the need for close combat.
  3. Precision Targeting: Drones with advanced targeting systems can disable or destroy armored vehicles with high accuracy, reducing collateral damage.
  4. Operational Flexibility: The mobility and versatility of drones allow for rapid deployment and adaptation to changing combat conditions, providing support wherever it’s needed most.

How Do Drones Affect the Dynamics of Warfare?

The utilization of drones in warfare has revolutionized the dynamics of traditional conflicts. The ability to gather real-time intelligence and strike targets accurately has shifted the balance of power on the battlefield. Drones offer a force multiplier effect, allowing a small number of operators to control multiple UAVs simultaneously. Increased efficiency and effectiveness give the military a significant advantage over adversaries. Additionally, using drones has forced opposing forces to adapt their strategies and develop countermeasures to mitigate the impact of these unmanned aerial systems.

What Are the Tactical Applications of Drones in Warfare?

Drones provide a range of tactical applications for military forces. Their ISR capabilities enable them to conduct reconnaissance missions, gather intelligence on enemy movements, and identify high-value targets. By relaying real-time data to ground commanders, drones assist in developing effective battle plans and strategies.

  1. Surveillance and reconnaissance missions
  2. Target acquisition and tracking
  3. Air strikes and precision bombing
  4. Battlefield damage assessment
  5. Communication and relay support
  6. Search and rescue operations
  7. Convoy and perimeter security
  8. Counter-terrorism operations
  9. Psychological operations and propaganda dissemination
  10.  Electronic warfare and signal jamming

Armed drones can engage enemy targets accurately and precisely, reducing collateral damage and minimizing the risk to friendly forces. The ability of drones to loiter over a specific area for extended periods also enhances their role in providing continuous battlefield surveillance.

How Do Ground Troops Adapt to Enemy Drones?

Ground troops have had to adapt their strategies and tactics to counter the increasing use of enemy drones in modern warfare. Drone technology has rapidly evolved, allowing adversaries to utilize these unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance, surveillance, and even offensive operations at a sustainable cost. As a result, ground troops must now be well-versed in the various types of drones they may encounter on the battlefield and the potential threats they pose. These adjustments include understanding the capabilities and limitations of these drones and being able to identify and track them effectively.

Our recommendations follow:

  1. Develop counter-drone technology
  2. Train soldiers in drone detection and identification
  3. Implement effective communication and coordination strategies
  4. Utilize camouflage and concealment techniques
  5. Employ long-range weapons and anti-aircraft systems
  6. Conduct regular reconnaissance and surveillance missions
  7. Enhance situational awareness through advanced sensors and equipment
  8. Train troops using effective counter-drone tactics and strategies
  9. Establish robust intelligence networks to gather information on enemy drone capabilities and tactics
  10. Collaborate with other military branches and allied forces to share knowledge and resources in countering enemy drones.

The Army must equip Soldiers with the necessary tools and training to neutralize or disable enemy drones through electronic jamming, kinetic measures, or other counter-drone systems. The ability to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of drone warfare is crucial for ground troops to maintain an advantage and successfully execute their missions in today’s complex and dynamic battlefield environment.

Senior Leader Notes; Junior Leader Notes

Below are a few items we believe are critical for the Army to prepare for the current and future fight:

  1. Senior leaders must become comfortable with drones becoming damaged or lost.
  2. The security level of drones at company and below must be unclassified to enable leaders to think outside the box and not be constrained by an Article 15-6 investigation or Financial Liability Inspection of Property Loss (FLIPL). When it comes to property, many commanders will leave it in the box unless strictly directed to use it.
  3. Junior leaders must have a plan to use drones responsibly and effectively.
  4. 8-Step training model: training and certifying leaders is necessary for any event to include drone employment.
  5. Understand the basics: learn how to employ, fly, land, and control at high and low altitudes, and in various terrain. An SOP will surely come years from now.
  6. S3 (BN, BDE, DIV): work with Range Control to ensure there is a Restricted Operating Zone (ROZ) cleared for UAS at certain training locations across the installation to maximize the ability to practice flight operations.

Conclusion: The Power of Innovation in Shaping the Modern Battlefield

The incident involving the Ukrainian military’s successful use of a drone to neutralize Russian tanks underscores the growing importance of UAVs in modern warfare. Drones provide Ukraine with valuable ISR capabilities, tactical advantages, and the ability to strike enemy targets accurately. As technology advances, drones’ role in warfare is likely to expand further, shaping the future of military operations and changing the dynamics of conflicts worldwide.

Innovation has always been a driving force behind progress, and drone warfare is no exception. The Ukrainian army’s innovative tactics and technologies have redefined how countries fight wars in the future, challenging traditional notions of power on the battlefield. Drones will continue to play a significant role in warfare. Their ability to gather intelligence, conduct targeted strikes, and disrupt enemy operations makes them a formidable weapon. However, leaders must approach this technology cautiously and ensure responsible and ethical use. By embracing innovation and staying one step ahead of their adversaries, militaries can leverage the power of drones to gain a tactical advantage and shape the modern battlefield.

Sources / Credit

Similar Posts