Friday, March 25, 2022

Making hay with TB-2s

One of the most surprising developments in the Russian-Ukraine war is the effective ways Ukraine has been able to use Turkish made TB-2 drones. These TB-2 drones have been described as the Toyota Corolla of UAVs. According to the metaphor, it may not be able to everything the fancy sports car can do, but it can do 80% of that, which for a price tag of just under $2 million is pretty good. 

Many experts are shocked at the impact these drones are making. They are medium altitude, slow flying aircraft which should make them easy to shoot down for the advanced air defense systems in the Russian arsenal. The terrain is open and provides good radar coverage, so the drones shouldn't be difficult for the Russians to detect. One possible reason the drones aren't getting shot down could be the cost of the surface-to-air missile (SAM) required to shoot them down outweighs the benefit. Another reason could be the Ukrainian army has found opportune moments to use them, striking Russian convoys perhaps when defenses are lower than normal. We cannot be sure of the exact reasons at this time, but it is something to watch as the war continues. Some experts are predicting that effective use of the TB-2 will decline as Russia establishes stronger air defense capabilities, but until then they will be vital tools in slowing or blocking the Russian advance. 

In addition, the Ukrainians have found another interesting way to use the TB-2s. They are sharing the videos of successful TB-2 strikes, which has several effects in the information warfare domain. The use of these drones serves as proof that the Russians have not established air dominance. This fact and the video proof their army striking valuable Russian targets keeps Ukrainian morale high. These videos are often widely shared on websites like Twitter, providing short clips which make the Ukrainian look effective. All of these factors combine for an international effect: this keeps many citizens of NATO countries hopeful for Ukrainian success which keeps public support for providing aid to Ukraine high. This aid is crucial for Ukraine to continue resisting Russian advances and conduct counter offensives of their own. 

As mentioned above, we cannot be sure how much longer the Ukrainians will be able to make effective use of their TB-2s, but as the old saying goes "make hay while you can make hay." Right now, the Ukrainians are certainly "making hay" with their TB-2s. 

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