Russian invaders likely running out of Orlan-10 drones – media reports

2 December 2022, 07:27 PM
Destroyed Russian Orlan-10 (Photo:The Command of Air Assault Troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/Facebook)

Destroyed Russian Orlan-10 (Photo:The Command of Air Assault Troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine/Facebook)

Invading Russian forces are likely running out of Orlan-10 drones, which were previously actively used in a full-scale war against Ukraine, U.S. newspaper the Washington Post reported on Dec. 2.

Orlan-10 is Russia’s premier reconnaissance drone, which also has electronic-warfare capabilities.

Lt. Oleksandr Sosovskyy, a deputy battalion commander in Ukraine’s 93rd Mechanized Brigade, said he had noticed in recent months there were fewer Orlans around. Before, the Russians would often have two flying at once – one for reconnaissance and one to correct artillery strikes. By summertime, hearing or seeing one, much less two, became rarer, he said.

Video of day

According to the Washington Post, the Orlan-10 is the Russian military’s workhorse in the sky, but it’s unclear how many are left. Many have been shot down, and there is little available data on production rates.

In September, after Russia’s forces were ousted from Kharkiv, Alexander Khodakovsky, commander of Russia’s Vostok Battalion, lamented Moscow’s drone shortage.

“I have fewer people than I would like – but this is not the main difficulty. It’s the fact that for hours I cannot find the positions of the enemy from which they are hitting us,” Khodakovsky wrote on Telegram. “I can’t because there are no means of artillery reconnaissance.”

Col. Yurii Solovey, who heads air defense for Ukraine’s ground forces, said his unit has destroyed more than 580 Orlan-10s since Russia’s invasion began.

“They’re starting to use some new drones instead, so that’s a sign to us that they’ve basically run out of the Orlans,” Solovey said. “But they still have to do reconnaissance.”

The Washington Post noted that alternatives are hard to come by. Russian military systems – especially drones – depend on microelectronic components produced in the United States, Europe and Asia, which Moscow now has difficulty procuring because of sanctions.

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