It has been 4 months since Russia started using Iranian kamikaze drones for the war against Ukraine. During this time, the military command of Ukraine has gone through several stages of "acceptance" of the new reality.
At the first stage, it turned out that the new weapon of terrorists is insidious and aimed at actively depleting the air defense system of Ukraine, and that the cost of shooting down drones is many times higher than the cost of buying and launching drones. In October, the WSJ, citing Molfar, wrote about the difference of almost 100 times: between the price of buying and using drones by Russia, and the cost of shooting down these drones for Ukraine. Ukraine was suffered big losses. Of course, this caused a flurry of discussions and controversy. In this regard, the YouTube channel Tokar.ua, based on Molfar's calculations, published a video with extensive explanations. The video provides a detailed explanation of why in various publications it can be seen that shooting down a drone costs either seven times more than the drone itself or a hundred times more: it depends on what kind of missiles are used (for example, American missiles, which cost about half a million dollars), but also on the efficiency of air defense (that is, how many missiles are spent on one drone). In addition, the calculations are approximate: there is no exact data. Nevertheless, Molfar OSINT community considers all actions of the Ukrainian military justified and coordinated, necessary and obligatory. After all, we are talking about invaluable human lives and the integrity of critical infrastructure, the restoration of which is much more expensive than ammunition.
The second stage was the optimization of efforts to fight the Shaheds: yes, Iranian drones are still a problem, but now we can say that it is not critical. Later, the NYT, citing Molfar, wrote about the difference of about 7 times: between the price of launching and the price of shooting down Iranian drones. The difference is still not in favor of Ukraine, but the new figures look much better than the previous ones. This can be worked with, especially since the efficiency of the Armed Forces is becoming increasingly higher.
Today, we will make the third assessment of the situation regarding Ukraine's fight against Iranian-made barrage munitions, which the Russian Federation uses to attack critical infrastructure. And looking ahead, this assessment will be even better for Ukraine and even worse for Russia.
As of January 4, 2023, a total of 629 launches of Shahed drones were recorded in Ukraine – this is the total number of all launches from the beginning of the use of Iranian UAVs in Ukraine until January 4, 2023. At the same time, open sources revealed information about 544 Iranian-made UAVs shot down in Ukraine during the same period. The overall efficiency of shooting down UAVs is 86.49%. These are extremely high figures that are growing every month!
The investigation also revealed that from November 2022 to January 2023, the efficiency of shooting down drones was approximately 94%. That is, only 6 launches out of 100 have recently ended in a hit. It is also worth noting that a hit is not always a defeat of the target/object because drones fall on the coastline, into the water, etc.
The efficiency of shooting down has significantly improved, including due to the new solution of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the fight against the Shaheds. We will consider it in the next section.
Since late autumn, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been actively deploying mobile air defense units. These are pickup trucks that are equipped with a machine gun and a powerful searchlight to effectively hunt drones even at night. According to the calculations of the OSINT community Molfar, the estimated cost of equipping 1 vehicle, together with the price of the car, is ~$26 thousand. This price is comparable to the price of one Shahed-136 (Geranium-2) drone. In winter, such units have shown their high efficiency because in some cases 100% of drones were shot down, and the price of machine gun ammunition is much lower than the price of missiles and others defend ammunition.
The formation of mobile air defense units with machine guns and searchlights for night hunting is, without exaggeration, a brilliant invention of the Armed Forces of Ukraine! Let's consider that the price of one Iranian ammunition HESA Shahed-136 (Geran-2) is approximately ~ $ 20-50 thousand. The cost of equipping a mobile air defense unit is close to the lower limit of this range (~ $26 thousand), and at the same time, one such unit can be used an unlimited number of times.
The enemy is constantly learning too, which is why Russian commanders have begun to plot drone flight routes along natural obstacles such as wide rivers. In theory, this should make it easier for terrorists to achieve their goals. But in practice, the Ukrainian Armed Forces are shooting down drones even more effectively every day. And the change in the flight routes of the Shaheds, although complicating the situation due to blind spots of air defense radars, did not have the desired effect for Russians.
As you can see, the military command of Ukraine has found a really cheap and effective way to shoot down Iranian kamikaze drones – these are mobile air defense units! The ratio of the launch price to the price of shooting down the drone, when mobile air defense units operate, is exclusively in favor of Ukraine! It is three times cheaper for Ukraine to shoot down a drone with a machine gun than for Russia to launch it. At the same time, the Armed Forces continue to use all other types of defensive weapons, regardless of their cost and the number of available ammunition.
This is war, and the military defend the most precious thing – human lives. As well as such strategically important factors as the welfare of the population and the integrity of critical infrastructure. Therefore, the cost of weapons fades into the background.
❗️ Unfortunately, it is impossible to calculate the relation between the total price of launching and the total price of shooting down drones, as from 17.10.2022 the Ukrainian Air Force stopped indicating the specific weapon used in defense. Only general information is provided – air defense, anti-aircraft guns, firearms, etc. Therefore, it is impossible to calculate the total costs.
In November 2022, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said that Russia had ordered 2,400 drones from Iran, without specifying which types and how long it would take to deliver them. According to the comment of the representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) Vadym Skibitskyi on January 4, 2023, Russia ordered 1750 units, 660 of them were used. The Russians are also waiting for a new delivery, probably 250-300 units.
So, the situation with Iranian drones no longer looks so scary. If, of course, we consider it separately from the entire theater of war operations, that is, exactly as we did in this article.
Molfar OSINT community emphasizes that despite the success of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the actions of the Russian Federation cause catastrophic destruction to the Ukrainian state. This is genocide, ecocide and ethnocide in one of the most aggressive forms. The very fact that the country continues to live and work is the result of the heroic actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Iranian drones continue to be a big threat in this war: when used with cruise and ballistic missiles to pre-deplete Ukraine's air defenses, Iranian munitions are as effective as before. The fight continues every day, and this fight would not be possible without the help of Ukraine's Western partners.
Ukrainian people are grateful to Western partners for military assistance! Western military assistance and heroic actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are the basis for the protection of Europe from Russian aggression.
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