How drones are changing the way we fight

Ukraine, front line. We are in Kharkiv region. A Ukrainian army unit has camped in the forest, dug trenches there and controls the valley, which is located a few kilometers from the border with Russia.

Soldiers sleep in abandoned houses,
hidden by dense forest. Some are very young, 19 or 20 years old. Most are not professional and joined after the Russian invasion on February 24th.

Roman was an engineer before the war, now he leads this small team and is also responsible for intelligence. “In particular, we use drones from the market” This commander of the Ukrainian army explains to RTL. “We should always adapt our goals to the situation. We have drones to locate, identify our targets, spy, understand our enemy’s movements, know their position. : know how many soldiers, how many tanks, how many all kinds of vehicles are in such a place”.

The novel also explains how to send a drone close to a target to be destroyed: after a failed shot, the drone will send corrections to the gunner in real-time if it needs to change its parameters slightly.

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Turkish or Iranian kamikazes

Intelligence, surveillance, artillery… Drones can also be used to kill. Their names are different: prowler ammunition, kamikaze drone. Some of them were very famous during this war: the Turkish Bairaktar, who was given to the Ukrainians, the Iranian Shahed, who was given to the Russians. A lot has already been said. These are drones designed for military purposes.

The the war shows that even civilian drones can be used for military purposes.
The French army insists on this point when analyzing the ways of waging war in Ukraine: the use of what can be found in civilian life can be diverted. Or how the Ukrainians were able to put small payloads – old Soviet grenades from the fifties – on their commercial drones and thus manage to track down their opponent.

“What Ukrainians do”, The Journal’s Joseph Henrotin explains International Defense and Security, rebuilding these weapons, equipping them with 3D printers, small stabilizer fins, and then placing them under the drones, ensuring that the grenade is fired directly over the target, and ensuring that the grenade reaches the ground in the most effective manner. engine, on the roof of the armored car, where it is most vulnerable. The Islamic State did it in Syria or Iraq. This is a systematized phenomenon in Ukraine.”

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Maneuvers with drones in Coetquidan

Analyzing the war in Ukraine, French soldiers note that Ukrainian units on the front line have a very significant initiative. A form of decentralization, the Russian method, by contrast, is highly centralized. For RTL, Julien Fautrat went to the Coetquidan military camp in Morbihan. For training that integrates drones into sensitive maneuvering.

In Coetquidan, the future officers of the French army are trained, those who will have to use drones in the event of an attack – this is the training in which RTL participates. As Second Lieutenant Etienne captures the village, he deploys his drones, not his men, to learn the number of guards in front of this house and adjust his maneuver accordingly.

“Drones allow us to quickly obtain information about different positions and different sections of the terrain”, says Second Lieutenant Etienne, a student at the St-Cyr Coëtquidan Academy. “Instead of getting our teams as close as possible to the enemy and putting them in danger, we were able to send the drones for first attack, so support, first kill, and we were able to execute a decoy maneuver (editor’s note) to make them believe we were on the other side.”

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Researchers – engineers of the academy are looking at a swarm of drones, several drones that will fly at the same time, all of which will perform different tasks, controlled by a leader drone (like a queen bee, like a swarm of bees). ) thanks to artificial intelligence.

“The war in Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh provides a lot of information”, emphasizes Gérard de Boisboissel, research engineer at CREC Saint-Cyr. “The doctrine of employment was to make a somewhat systematic advance in leaps and bounds before the drones that observe, detect, neutralize, and that’s how we advance. There was even the maintenance of these drones that followed the front of the field. Given the new modus operandi integrated into the combat units, in my opinion , informs about tomorrow’s conflict”.

3,000 French drones by 2025

Bourges, Cher, General Directorate of Arms. Drones are being tested. Soldiers report their needs. And engineers at this center are trying to answer that. The French army aims to acquire 3,000 drones by 2025: mini-drones, nano-drones, tactical drones…

“We’ve integrated all the laser sensors and have a laser shot for a combat firing simulation system,” says engineer Aymeric. “This will allow you to maneuver a drone and a battle group at the same time and see how one matches up with the other. [de ce drone] this is the HK416, a rifle in service with the forces… The flight autonomy is about twenty minutes. So we can go a few hundred meters and plan to fire live ammunition by the end of the year.

This drone needs high-performance cameras to operate, data transfer to be instantaneous, for this drone – light – to withstand extreme weather conditions. The ammunition is intended for a small-caliber, lightweight, highly mobile drone. It must meet all types of combat in all terrains and in all weather conditions.

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