Russia appears to struggle with properly deploying defense systems against Ukrainian drones - ISW

Russia appears to struggle with properly deploying defense systems against Ukrainian drones - ISW

The Russian military is reportedly forming mobile fire groups to mitigate against Ukrainian drone strike threats but will likely struggle to field these groups at the required scale in the near term.

The Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said this in its latest report, according to Ukrinform.

According to the report, the Russian military is forming mobile fire groups within unspecified combined arms armies (CAAs) and air force and air defense armies to combat drones, and will equip these groups with thermal imagers, electronic warfare (EW) systems, and machine guns mounted on pickup trucks. At the same time, information about the location of the groups, their size and echelon is not disclosed.

ISW experts say that the Russian military notably faces Ukrainian drone threats both within occupied Ukraine as well as within Russia at oil refineries and other critical infrastructure supporting Russia’s war effort, and it is unclear if these mobile groups will be able to defend the extent of territory that Ukrainian drones target.

It is noted that the description of the Russian mobile fire groups is similar to Ukrainian tactical mobile fire groups, which the Ukrainian military started to deploy at scale in the spring of 2023 to defend against routine Russian Shahed-136/131 drone strikes.

“Ukrainian forces have long been conducting drone strikes against Russian targets in occupied Ukraine, and the Russian military command’s decision to form the mobile fire groups is likely in response to the recent intensification of Ukrainian drone strikes against Russian oil refineries in February and March,” the report says.

Read also: Power facility catches fire in Odesa region due to falling debris from downed drone

ISW experts add that Russian forces appear to struggle with properly deploying short-range air defense systems along expected flight vectors for Ukrainian drones, and the Russian military appears to have even failed to cover important potential targets in reportedly well-defended areas within Russia.

“The mass deployment of mobile fire groups throughout western Russia could pose similar challenges for Russian forces, as the Russian military may not be able to sufficiently field the groups at scale,” the report says.

As reported, after a drone strike on March 23, the Kuibyshev Oil Refinery in Russia’s Samara region has suspended operations due to damage to one of its units.

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