High-end, long-range combat drones like the MQ-1 Predator can fly for thousands of miles and strike adversaries from far away. They are also extremely expensive—one MQ1 costs $20 million—and manufacturing takes time.
Such drones are in short supply in Russia, creating a gap in Russian military capabilities. But Russia has adapted. This episode examines Russian use of cheap commercial and foreign-made drones in Ukraine—how this impacts dynamics on the ground and what this may reveal about the broader Russian war effort.
Samuel Bendett is an Advisor with CNA’s Russia Studies Program. His research focuses on Russian defense and technology developments; uncrewed, robotic, and autonomous military systems; artificial intelligence; and Russian military capabilities. His analysis of Russia’s war against Ukraine has appeared in globally-read news outlets such as VICE and The Washington Post.
CNA Report: Russia’s Use of Uncrewed Systems in Ukraine