U.S.-supplied drones disappoint Ukraine at the front lines

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  1. Falcon

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    U.S.-supplied drones disappoint Ukraine at the front lines

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    Millions of dollars' worth of U.S.-supplied drones that Kiev had hoped would help in its war against Russian-backed separatists have proven ineffective against jamming and hacking, Ukrainian officials say.

    The 72 Raven RQ-11B Analog mini-drones were so disappointing following their arrival this summer that Natan Chazin, an advisor to Ukraine's military with deep knowledge of the country's drone program, said if it were up to him, he would return them.

    "From the beginning, it was the wrong decision to use these drones in our (conflict)," Chazin, an advisor to the chief of the general staff of Ukraine's armed forces, told Reuters.

    The hand-launched Ravens were one of the recent highlights of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, aiming to give Kiev's military portable, light-weight, unarmed surveillance drones that were small enough to be used widely in the field. They are made by AeroVironment.

    But they appear to have fallen short in a battle against the separatists, who benefit from far more sophisticated military technology than insurgencies the West has contended with in Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.

    The Air Force command of Ukraine's armed forces acknowledged to Reuters that the Ravens supplied by the United States had a fundamental drawback: Russia and the separatist forces it supports can intercept and jam their video feeds and data.

    "The complex is analog, therefore command channels and data are not protected from interception and suppression by modern means of electronic warfare," it said.

    "(Analog) basically puts you back in the stone age of the UAVs," said James Lewis, director of the strategic technologies program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, using an acronym for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones.

    "I'm not being critical of the Raven. I love the Raven ... But it's a cheap, disposable UAV. And for more intense conflict, that may not cut the ice anymore."

    More :http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-ukraine-drones-exclusive-idUSKBN14A26D
     
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