Ukraine will be raising funds to purchase a fleet of unmanned marine vessels.
Unmanned Surface Vessels (USVs), or simply sea drones have drastically changed the rules of naval warfare. Using these relatively low-cost measures, the Ukrainian Army was able to hit much larger ships of the Russian military fleet, notably the Russian flagship missile cruiser “Moscow”.
The entire world has observed the results of the USV strikes in the ongoing Ukrainian war against Russian aggression. It is obvious that small drones loaded with explosive charges will become a dominating form of naval battles, and that large ships will be forced to find solutions for defense against these weapons.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy already announced that the country would be collecting funds required to purchase a fleet of sea drones.
The concept of unmanned surface vessels is not new, and these systems have been actively developed by several countries. For example, the US has several types of such drones, including UxS IBP 21, SailDrone Explorer, and MANTAS T-12.
Most of the early prototypes of USVs were intended to perform patrolling and reconnaissance missions. Armed versions were developed as carrier platforms for weapons. But so-called “kamikaze” versions, where the drone itself is an explosive and where the entire design is based on the lowest-cost principle, appeared only very recently.
Modern marine drones are already capable of eliminating targets at a distance of 300 km (186 miles) and even beyond this range limit. A couple of decades ago the range of communications was the main limiting factor preventing the use of remotely-controlled vessels. With current satellite-based communications, the operational range of such drones is primarily defined by their propulsion systems.