Sunday, July 14, 2024

Ukraine Conflict Breaking Stigma Of Loitering Munitions For Western Forces, Says GlobalData

By Staff Correspondent

The conflict in Ukraine has seen significant use of loitering munitions, with the two sides using them to a great extent against both armored vehicles and personnel. Apart from holding several domestically developed models, Ukraine has also been receiving loitering munitions from the US, including the ‘Phoenix Ghost’ which was designed in part to meet key Ukrainian needs, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

In the light of the apparent effectiveness, the US Marine Corps are seeking increased access to loitering munitions in future budgets. The service officially adopted loitering munitions as part of their strategy in 2021, with a push for more funding in 2023 and 2024 budgets. The US army has also experimented with the Spike Firefly, a small loitering munition, and the French army are planning to purchase AeroVironment Switchblades to supplement their forces.

William Davies, Associate Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “Although loitering munitions found their notoriety during the Nagorno-Karabakh War, Western militaries have dabbled in funding for the new systems. In 2010, the Royal Navy sought to procure loitering munitions for their Type 45 destroyers but cancelled the program in 2017 after having spent £207 million on the project. There could be some element of concern that loitering munitions may be viewed as a magic bullet by defense planners, potentially drawing funds away from other programmes.”

AeroVironment Switchblades have also been part of the loitering munitions provided by the US to Ukraine. These inexpensive systems have equipped Ukraine’s forces with surveillance and offensive capabilities to strike against Russian armour and personnel with ease. The autonomous capabilities and ease of use means that they can be used at a tactical level and eliminate the need to rely on the resource heavy infrastructure needed for Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAVs).

Davies concludes: “The proliferation of these systems will continue to grow, with the likelihood of smaller militaries fielding their own variants in the not so far distant future. But it is too soon to say if their use will be fully adopted by larger militaries who may still see them as a novel solution to a problem, they themselves are not suffering from.”

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