Big and slow Turkish-made drones have been thwarting Russian advances in Ukraine war

The fog of war often is pretty thick, if not impenetrable. That could be why military experts around the world are having a hard time figuring out how Ukraine's air defenses, thus far, largely have bested Russia's air assaults. Ukraine’s most sophisticated attack drone, which has achieved remarkable success against Vladimir Putin's high-tech air force, is a slow, low-flying and completely defenseless drone

As the New York Times reports, many "experts" predicted that the few drones that the Ukrainian forces managed to get off the ground would be shot down in hours by the Russians and be a non-factor in the war. That hasn't been the case. Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 model drones, which buzz along at about half the speed of a Cessna at about 50 or 60 knots, not only still are flying, they're also shooting guided missiles at Russian missile launchers, tanks and supply trains and wreaking havoc on them.

The NYTimes writes: "Drones have become a sort of lumbering canary in the war’s coal mine, a sign of the astonishing resiliency of the Ukrainian defense forces and the larger problems that the Russians have encountered."

“The performance of the Russian military has been shocking,” said David A. Deptula, a retired three-star Air Force general who planned the U.S. air campaigns in Afghanistan in 2001 and the Persian Gulf in 1991. “Their failure to secure air superiority has been reflected by their slow and ponderous actions on the ground. Conversely, the Ukrainian air force performing better than expected has been a big boost to the morale of the entire country.”

The Times writes: "Before Russia invaded Ukraine, Bayraktar TB2s were already punching above their weight. The drones, with a 39-foot wingspan, are assembled in Turkey but rely extensively on electronics made in the United States and Canada. A growing number of countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe have bought them because, at about $2 million apiece, they are much cheaper than manned combat aircraft."

“Even with the drones’ record of success, everyone expected that, once they really faced the full gamut of Russian defenses, they would stand no chance,” said Lauren Kahn, who studies drone warfare at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. Their survival and continued use “is really raising questions about the Russians’ capabilities,” she said.

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