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EDF colonel: Small drones have proven very effective

Tanel Lelov.
Tanel Lelov. Source: ERR

Lt. Col. Tanel Lelov, head of air defense for the Estonian Division, said on the "Ukraina stuudio" talk show that both sides have been making use of small drones in the Russia-Ukraine war, which have turned out to be very effective.

Lelov explained that the sides are trying to hit enemy targets from as far away and with as little casualties as possible, which drones allow them to do.

"Russia is trying to hit targets by combining the use of missiles and drones. Ukraine is also using drones of their own making to hit strategic military targets and disrupt or paralyze Russia's movements and activity along the front," Lelov explained.

He said that Russia has been combining the use of missiles and Shahed drones to try and overload Ukrainian air defenses, adding that the number of missiles and drones used has been growing in time.

Ukraine is using a lot of so-called ordinary drones. "One needs to be resourceful in war, and everything that can be used to put pressure on Russian positions and troops is being used. Multipurpose drones, whether self-made, store-bought or made for military use, are made to carry as much ordnance as they can and drop it where needed. It is a good short-range option as drones can be piloted using onboard cameras," Lelov said.

"Of course, it is possible to scramble the drones but there are usually not enough scramblers to go around, they are relatively expensive and do not have much range. The drones used are often quite small because it makes them harder to detect using radar. That is why they have proved very effective and there might even be one or two drones per soldier," he added.

Drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras are especially useful this time of year because the ground is cooler which makes military vehicles and troops stand out.

Lelov said that small drones are a new trend and allow lethal force to be projected over longer distances, often from relative safety for the operator.

The lieutenant colonel added that Estonia's air defense planning considers the threat of drones. "We are creating capacity to detect and counter such threats."

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Editor: Merili Nael, Marcus Turovski

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