Ukraine aims to develop an air-to-air combat drone

Kyiv, UKRAINE (AP) — Ukraine has purchased about 1,400 drones, mostly for reconnaissance, said the Ukrainian government’s technology minister. We are planning to develop a combat model that can attack aircraft. .

and recent interview Speaking to The Associated Press, Minister of Digital Transformation Mikhail Fyodorov described Russia’s war in Ukraine as the first major war of the internet age. He credits drones and satellite internet systems. Elon Musk’s Starlink By transforming the conflict.

Ukraine has purchased drones like the Fly Eye, a small unmanned aerial vehicle used for intelligence, battlefield surveillance and reconnaissance.

“And the next stage, more or less equipped with reconnaissance drones, are strike drones,” said Fedorov. “Both of these are drones that explode and drones that fly up to 3-10 kilometers to attack targets.”

He predicted “more missions with Strike drones” in the future, but did not give details. Anyway, it will be the next step in technology development,” he said.

Russian authorities make multiple claims Ukraine drone attack At military bases in recent weeks, including on Monday, the Russian military said it shot down a drone approaching Engels Air Force Base, more than 600 kilometers (more than 370 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

The Russian military said three servicemen were killed by the debris, but the aircraft was not damaged. The base houses his Tu-95 and Tu-160 nuclear-capable strategic bombers involved in attacks on Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have never formally admitted to carrying out such drone attacks, but made a mysterious allusion On how to expect Russian retaliation for the war in Ukraine, including on Russian territory.

Ukraine is researching and developing drones that can fight and shoot down other drones, Fedorov said. used by Russia Iran-made Shahed drones for air strikes on Ukrainian territory in recent weeks, in addition to rockets, cruise missiles and artillery strikes.

“We can already say that the situation with drones will change dramatically in February or March,” he said.

Fedorov was interviewed in a bright, modern office. This room, in a simple ministry building, contained his vinyl record player, history books piled on shelves, and a treadmill.

The minister stressed the importance of mobile communications for both civil and military purposes during the war and said that the most difficult places to maintain service were the Donetsk, Zaporizhia, Odessa and Kyiv regions in the central and eastern part of the country. said it is.

He said at times less than half of the cell phone towers in the capital, Kyiv, are functioning because Russian airstrikes have destroyed or damaged the infrastructure that powers them.

Ukraine has about 30,000 mobile phone base stations, and the government is now trying to connect them to generators so that they can continue to operate even if airstrikes damage the power grid.

The only alternatives at the moment are satellite systems like Starlink, on which Ukrainians may rely more if the blackout becomes prolonged.

“In this case, you have to understand that Starlink and towers connected to generators will be the basic internet infrastructure,” said Fedorov.

Many cities and towns are facing power outages lasting up to 10 hours. Fedorov said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a decree instructing mobile operators to allow them to provide signals without electricity for at least three days, Fedorov said.

Meanwhile, his ministry, with the support of European Union partners, is working to introduce 10,000 more Starlink stations in Ukraine, with internet services providing hot drinks, heated spaces, electricity and shelter. Open to the public through hundreds of “invincibility points”. For those forced from their homes by fighting or power outages.

About 24,000 Starlink stations are already in operation in Ukraine. Musk’s company, SpaceX, started offering them Early in the war after Fedorov tweeted a request to the billionaire.

“I just got down on my knees and begged them to start working in Ukraine and promised to set a world record,” he recalled.

Fedorov said that the donation of SpaceX’s satellite terminal usa supply Multiple rocket launchers, critical to Ukraine’s ability to defend against Russian aggression.

“Thousands of lives have been saved,” he said.

Similar to civilian applications, Starlink has helped frontline reconnaissance drone operators target artillery fire against Russian assets and positions. Fedorov said his team now spends 70% of his time on military technology. The ministry was founded just three years ago by him.

Providing drones to the military is one of its main tasks.

“We need to do more than we expect, and we will not wait for progress,” said Fedorov, laughing at Russian technology in the field of drones. “I don’t believe in their technical potential at all.”


Associated Press writer Jamie Keaten contributed to this report.


This version has been corrected to indicate that the transliteration of the minister’s surname is Fedorov instead of Federov.


Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine.