US Drones Are Expensive and Error Prone so Ukraine Turns to China

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via Mike Shedlock

Drones from American startups are glitchy and expensive prompting Ukraine to turn to alternatives from China.

The Wall Street Journal comments American Drones Failed to Turn the Tide in Ukraine

The Silicon Valley company Skydio sent hundreds of its best drones to Ukraine to help fight the Russians. Things didn’t go well. Skydio’s drones flew off course and were lost, victims of Russia’s electronic warfare. The company has since gone back to the drawing board to build a new fleet.

Most small drones from U.S. startups have failed to perform in combat, dashing companies’ hopes that a badge of being battle-tested would bring the startups sales and attention. It is also bad news for the Pentagon, which needs a reliable supply of thousands of small, unmanned aircraft.

“The general reputation for every class of U.S. drone in Ukraine is that they don’t work as well as other systems,” Skydio Chief Executive Adam Bry said, calling his own drone “not a very successful platform on the front lines.”

Ukrainian officials have found U.S.-made drones fragile and unable to overcome Russian jamming and GPS blackout technology. At times, they couldn’t take off, complete missions or return home. American drones often fail to fly at the distances advertised or carry substantial payloads.

Ukraine has found ways to get tens of thousands of drones as well as drone parts from China. The military is using off-the-shelf Chinese drones, primarily from SZ DJI Technology.

The U.S. has called DJI a Chinese military company and a surveillance tool for Beijing, which DJI denies. The Pentagon banned DJI drones in the U.S. military, and congressional legislation would ban new DJI products in the U.S.

Skydio employees went back to Ukraine 17 times to get feedback, Bry said. Its new drone is built around Ukraine’s military needs and feedback from public-safety agencies and other customers, he said, rather than U.S. Defense Department requirements that are sometimes divorced from battlefield realities.

I suspect China is selling drones and drone parts to both Ukraine and Russia. What a racket.

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Meanwhile, US drones made to US Defense Department specs are garbage.

 

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