Ukraine is building a large number of drones to conduct more attacks against targets in Russia, according to the Ukrainian vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov.
“There will be more drones, more attacks, and fewer Russian ships. That’s for sure,” Fedorov said in an interview with Reuters on Friday.
Fedorov posted a grainy video on social media on Thursday that appeared to be filmed from a vessel heading towards a much larger warship, followed by an explosion.
Fedorov said at the time that the attack was the work of Ukrainian systems paid for by funds from a government-run crowdfunding platform that raises money for equipment including drones.
The 32-year-old Ukrainian official, who has played a key role in the development of the country’s drone industry with help from Elon Musk, said that production will include both unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
He also claimed Kiev’s aerial drone production had increased by over 100 times in 2023 from last year.
“I think it’ll be an increase of around 120 to 140 times by the end of this year if you compare it to the previous one.”
According to the minister, Ukraine is testing AI systems that can locate targets several kilometers away and guide drones to them even if external communications are disrupted by electronic warfare measures.
“We need AI, for instance, the technology for finding targets, just like how the Lancet (a Russian drone) operates, so that a target can be located under electronic warfare and destroyed.”
“At the moment it’s all at the testing stage, but some drones we are buying use AI to recognize targets. In a forest, it can detect a target and recognize whether it’s a person, tank, or a certain vehicle. These technologies are being used actively,” Fedorov said.
After months of silence, Ukraine has recently started to claim responsibility for attacks on Crimea, having previously not directly confirmed involvement in blasts at military targets there.
This week, Ukraine has made several attacks using sea drones and missiles on Russia’s Black Sea naval fleet in and around the Crimean peninsula.
Russia acknowledged a Ukrainian missile attack that damaged a warship and a submarine this week in Sevastopol, Crimea.
However, the Russian defense ministry said its anti-attack systems had repelled all the launched naval explosive-laden drones.
Till now, multiple attacks targeting ships in the busy Sevastopol harbor have been launched with unmanned naval drones.
On Oct. 29, 2022, USVs and UAVs undetected by Russian defense systems reportedly covered a distance of around 300km reaching the harbor and attacking Russia’s naval base there. The attack was coordinated via a satellite communication system akin to Starlink.
In an earlier attack, which experts say Ukraine had likely carried out with the help of US-led NATO forces, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet lost its flagship, the guided missile cruiser Moskv, after being struck by an anti-ship missile.
Kiev has also repeatedly targeted the 18km-long parallel bridges linking Crimea to the Russian mainland, doing damage to the structure which is used to transfer goods between the two sides.
Moscow has warned the West against the use of more advanced weapons and flooding Kiev with arms and munitions, saying it will only prolong the conflict.