In 2014, Russian troops showed the world how to use small drones on Ukraine’s battlefields, where they guided attacks on tanks and other vehicles. But the world, it seems, has learned quickly. The Russian military, having themselves been bloodied by off-the-shelf drones in Syria, has announced that all of its services will now be trained to fight them off.
Izvestiya reports that new tactics developed by the Defense Ministry to counter UAVs were tested by Russian warships in October wargames off the Crimean coast. During the exercise, drones attacked the naval vessels in patterns modeled after the ways Syrian insurgent groups have been using them.
While the U.S. military and others have developed tactics, techniques, and procedures to fight off drones, Russia is the first country to implement such training on such a wide scale. The move follows a January attack by anti-Assad forces on a Russian military base in Syria, using ten small drones modified to carry explosives.
Russian military officials frequently cite attacks by armed consumer drones flown by “terrorist” groups, said Samuel Bendett, a researcher at the CNA Corporation and a fellow in Russia Studies at the American Foreign Policy Council.
“This threat was judged to be great enough to introduce training to counter such small drones with small fires across so many Russian services – airborne troops, marines and land formations. The training will concern everyone in uniform - from a cook, medic and logistician to front-line forces,” Bendett said.
He added that Russian troops may soon be equipped with rifle-like electronic-warfare devices that can disable a drone. Examples include the Pichal and Rex-1 unveiled at the recent Russian Army 2018 arms show.