To Keep its Edge at Sea, Ukraine Considers Drone Subs

Ukraine Considers Drone Subs - Merchant Navy Info

As a country without warships, Ukraine had considerable success in attacking the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet. Using missiles and drone boats, they destroyed a Drone Subs, several tank landing ships, a missile corvette, a cruiser, and several patrol boats, and took many other ships to shipyards for repair. This success is based on careful strategy and technological sophistication, both domestic and imported. However, according to  Vice Admiral Oleksiy Neizhpapa, head of Ukraine’s navy, further innovation may be needed to maintain this. 

“The enemy adapts, and we must adapt. Modern warfare is a war of technology. “Whoever wins in a technical sense wins,” he told Sky News. Neizhpapa made similar comments earlier this month, calling for further innovation. Some of the tricks and tactics that we worked out in 2022 and 2023 will not work in 2024,” he told Ukraineska Pravda.

The enemy has also learned, they have a very powerful industrial complex, and no one has ever restricted the Russians’ weapons funding. Ukraine’s weapons include the Storm Shadow cruise missile; Which has proven to be very effective against stationary targets in ports and shipyards. Last year, the Ukrainian military used one Storm Shadow to destroy a Kilo-class attack submarine in Sevastopol’s Tomb Wharf, and shortly thereafter used another to blow up the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet. A series of devastating attacks have been blamed on suicide Drone Subs, including the recent sinking of a patrol boat in late December. We have to move in this direction, we have to evolve.

Drone Subs and Weapons

Drone Subs are a weapon that will bring us closer to victory at sea,” Neijpapa told Ukraineska Pravda. Russia adapted to the threat by moving the bulk of its Black Sea fleet further east to the relative safety of Novorossiysk. Reflecting the risk of attack by cruise missiles or swarms of drone boats, Russian surface combatants have not made any major forays into the western Black Sea in recent months. To maintain peak lethality, Ukraine may consider using underwater drones, according to analyst H.I. Sutton. 

On January 28, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine held a drone contest in search of new ideas and new technologies to penetrate Russia’s defenses. Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are the obvious next step, and also one option, tentatively codenamed FURY, would be to upgrade existing U.S.-made AUVs to carry live weapons. This idea is not new,  Ukraine is already considering it, but this concrete implementation is new. Equipping the production research/survey AUV with advanced propulsion, navigation, communications, and autonomy capabilities will enhance its performance. Weapons would be a small technological advance.

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