US drones do not fly or how to use money of US taxpayers more efficiently

Author : Vitaliy Deineha

Source : 112 Ukraine

Find out the details of Western military aid for Ukraine
19:42, 11 August 2017

Read the original text at


Recently, our mass media have been actively discussing the issue that the West is providing Ukraine with lethal weapons. American and Ukrainian high officials make various statements about getting "Javelins".

And although the news about giving us lethal weapons can be considered premature, but, apparently, sooner or later we will get it.

Of all the types of international assistance, the most difficult to receive is military assistance. Developed countries are interested in the fact that modern military technology is spreading slowly throughout the world. Maintaining technological superiority over potential military opponents allows the American army to wage war by losing relatively few soldiers.

The United States would not like to see its modern armament in a turbulent region, which could be further used against America.  So the States do not want their counter-battery radar, drones and night vision devices to be used in a fight against them.

Last year, IACCD (Independent Anti-Corruption Committee on Defense, which was initiated by Transparency International UK and Transparency International Ukraine) began to prepare a report on international military assistance to Ukraine.

Related: Finance Minister says that Ukraine is more interested in US military assistance than in economic support

The report included 18 major interviews with military, volunteers, top officials and donor countries. More than ten subdivisions were interviewed, which became the final recipients of cars, radio stations, night vision devices and drone personnel.

In fact, almost 20 years ago Ukraine began to receive logistical assistance from the United States. In 1998, we received the first "parcels of happiness" within the framework of the FMF program (US funding program for military equipment, property and services to foreign countries).

When the war in the East began, the aid went on an already established channel. But now this aid is much bigger. There were no such mechanisms with other countries, so the aid was registered as humanitarian assistance.

The mechanism of humanitarian assistance is simple: the donor state is willing to give us something, the Ministry of Social Policy recognizes this cargo as humanitarian aid, and it pays tolls to Ukraine. The mechanism of material and technical assistance is a little more complicated. The Ministry of Defense must submit to the Ministry of Economic Development a list of the desired assistance, all further process is carried out by the Ministry of Economic Development - such mechanism is prescribed by the law. But the military quickly began to communicate with donors directly, bringing the role of the Ministry of Economic Development to a formal one.

Related: Bellingcat discovered dozens of militants’ heavy military assets near Luhansk

At the same time, a large number of middlemen between the end-user and the donor countries has become one of the main reasons why we have received things that were not always used by our soldiers. The second problem is not always a system distribution.

Year 2014 has the most acutely identified both of these problems. The country was not ready for war either morally or organizationally. As a result, the decision as to what kind of help we need and which is not accepted was rather chaotic. In the first year of the war, our army was unprepared for the winter, and donor countries often gave us warm clothes and dry rations.

However, the provision of a form of thousands of armed forces, military electronics, fatal and ill-equipped weapons and vehicles is a complicated process. And when the army grows, the security infrastructure cannot quickly adapt to it. Even with a sufficient budget.

One of the biggest myths about international assistance is the belief that "it was stolen." It is not true. Most of the humanitarian military aid is immediately registered.

So, in 2014, when the volunteer battalions were set up, there were not isolated cases where even weapons were written off with gross violations of procedures. And as a result, it appeared on the black market. The units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security Service are still struggling with the market of illegal weapons, many of which disappeared in 2014. But with the arrival of volunteer units in the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Armed Forces, this situation has considerably improved.

Related: US Navy test anti-drone laser gun

Now the military account is quite tight, and it is much more difficult to steal a machine or night vision device. At the time we have got American counter-battery radars, Raven Unmanned Aircraft, night vision and HMMWV (Hummer) vehicles, our records were already well-established. While writing a report, we were unable to detect any single fact of large-scale thefts of expensive devices provided to us by the partners.

The exception is the American dry rations, which in 2014 appeared in the internet.  If we talk about the theft of drone, night vision devices and cars, we could not find such facts.

Let us turn to more unpleasant things. The fact is that a significant part of the property provided is used ineffectively or is not used for various reasons. Raven unmanned aerial vehicles can be the best example here. They are not intended for a war with a high-tech opponent who has modern means of electronic warfare in a territory with a large number of power lines and in the conditions of severe Ukrainian winter.

According to technical characteristics, such a complex can fly up to 10 kilometers. In fact, the soldiers were able to confirm the launches to a maximum range of 6 km, after which the aircraft began to lose control, or the quality of the picture became unacceptable. The power line or any other source of electromagnetic radiation on the route might lead to further reduction of this distance.

The transmission of the signal is conducted on an unprotected analogue channel, and therefore, if the equipment is available, it can be viewed by both parties.

In addition, Raven devices were completely unsuitable for use in the conditions of constant radio-electronic fight. During a strong counteraction, they easily lose control and fall.

In fact, an unmanned aerial vehicle of this type is suitable for wars somewhere in Africa and Afghanistan, where the enemy mostly has small light weapons. The American army often launches its columns ahead of raids.

Related: Pro-Kremlin militants attack OSCE drone

But in a position war with a technically strong opponent, these complexes turned out to be a technique of one class with household quadcopter machines. It has significantly lost the ability to drones of domestic production (for example, the complex Lelek-100).

And this is only part of the problem. The fact is that the effectiveness of the unmanned system is determined, first of all, by the qualifications of the crew. The training of these crews took place in the United States and Zhitomir. Quite obviously, in Zhytomyr, the quality of such training was much lower. In addition, a large number of people who have been sent to this training have already been demobilized or retired.

Another significant drawback of the complex was its book value. Despite the existence of discharging procedures, soldiers are often just afraid to launch it - because after the loss, there is the risk of losing financial responsibility for this.

As a result, we have a complex that:

  1. A) corresponds to the tasks of the platoon, but certainly not the brigade artillery, which would have been the main consumer of the results of its work;
  2. B) is easily and quickly lost (for example, some brigades have already lost all 3 sets of the complex);
  3. B) often does not have a qualified pilot;
  4. D) means hundreds of thousands of dollars for the American side.

The price of the complexes provided by Ukraine was $ 12 million.

Did this expensive aid have a significant impact on the course of the fighting? Obviously not. Can the money of the US taxpayers be used more efficiently? Of course.

Related: Ukraine begins testing of domestic drone Leleka 100

Система Orphus

If you find an error, highlight the desired text and press Ctrl + Enter, to tell about it

see more