Russia Puts ‘Drone Dogfighting’ Into Training Curriculum; 3500 FVP UAV Operators Trained For Ukraine SMO

In a notable evolution of battlefield tactics, Russian UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) units have incorporated air battles between copters into their training programs. This initiative highlights the increasing significance of UAVs in modern warfare scenarios.

The announcement was made by the commander of the Vasily Margelov battalion’s UAV unit with callsign Gordes. They revealed that the training program now includes exercises specifically designed to simulate dogfights between drones.

“There are such moments in the training program [to work out air battles between copters], we pay attention to this issue,” Gordes stated, emphasizing the strategic importance of mastering drone warfare tactics. 

The duration of training for UAV operators varies depending on several factors, Gordes explained. Motivation and initial training play crucial roles in shaping the readiness of drone operators for combat situations. 

Gordes elaborated, “There are aces who are ready in a week. It all depends on the moral state of the person. He can be a great ace in civilian life, and when he comes under fire, he may not show his abilities. Some study and succeed, and some can’t.”

File Image: Russia’s UAV Specialist.

The integration of air battles between copters in training programs underscores the ongoing competition between Russia and Ukraine for dominance in drone technology and expertise. The conflict between the two nations has witnessed a surge in the deployment of drones on the frontlines. 

According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, more than 3,500 first-person view (FPV) drone operators have been trained as part of the special military operation. This includes over 1,700 drone crews and highlights the significant investment in drone training within Russian military ranks.

In a concerted effort to enhance drone capabilities and adapt to evolving battlefield dynamics, the Russian military has established training ranges and centers dedicated to practicing the use of FPV drones, electronic warfare equipment, and advanced aircraft weaponry.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently emphasized the country’s increased production of military drones over the past year. While acknowledging certain technical challenges, Russia’s commitment to bolstering its drone arsenal underscores its determination to maintain military superiority.

Russia And Ukraine Ramp Up Drone Pilot Training

Drones have emerged as pivotal assets in modern warfare, offering strategic advantages in reconnaissance, surveillance, and combat operations. As both Russia and Ukraine intensify their reliance on drones, the outcome of the conflict may increasingly hinge on the mastery of UAV tactics and technology.

The Russian defense industry is developing an advanced drone training program within the country. The emphasis is on enhancing the capabilities and reliability of reconnaissance and strike drones based on feedback from combat operations. 

Rostec state defense conglomerate has already launched a training center specifically aimed at grooming specialists in unmanned aircraft. The curriculum encompasses instruction on drone control, data analysis, and strategies for countering hostile drone activities. 

The training regimen involves 30 to 165 hours of theoretical and practical coursework, with plans to enroll 50 individuals in the inaugural month of training, as announced by the company in February 2024.

Both Russia and Ukraine have initiated drone training programs within their school systems. This strategic shift underscores the growing recognition of the importance of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in military operations.

A drone pilot trainee practicing on a simulator in the DPR’s UAV training school

Last year, Russian lawmakers announced plans to incorporate combat drone flying basics into military training classes for schoolchildren starting from September 2023. 

Basic military training, a component previously absent from the curriculum since the collapse of the Soviet Union, has been reintroduced for Russian high school students in grades 10 and 11.

Russian high schoolers have been learning “terrain reconnaissance and enemy unmanned aerial vehicle combat methods” alongside general knowledge about drones. This comprehensive approach aims to equip students with essential skills relevant to modern warfare scenarios.

Meanwhile, similar efforts are underway in Ukraine to integrate drone training into school curricula. Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov announced on March 1 that seven vocational schools in the country would introduce a commercial drone education program. 

File Image

The Minister said that the “Commercial drone pilot” initiative will commence in various regions including Kyiv, Sumy, Lviv, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kirovohrad oblasts.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has identified measures to surpass Russia in drone capabilities as a top priority for 2024. On February 6, Zelensky issued a decree establishing a distinct branch within Ukraine’s Armed Forces specifically dedicated to drones.

This branch aims to develop specialized drone units, bolster production, enhance training programs, and drive innovation in drone technology.