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Ukrainian military innovations proved effective – and they’re changing modern warfare. Here is how

With the beginning of the Russian full-scale military invasion of Ukraine, the processes of transition from the old Soviet methods of management and mastering the latest developments have significantly intensified in the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU).

It was necessary as the war has changed as a phenomenon: today, modern weapons, technologies, and quick access to information play a decisive role on the battlefield, as opposed to manpower, which Russia heavily relies on.

Although the Russians have a significantly larger force than Ukraine, “the things going against the Russians are the continued impacts [of Ukraine’s progress] on their morale, their ability to sustain themselves — all of which have been impacted by the Ukrainians’ ability to get after [Russian] command and control, ammunition, sustainment and logistics locations,” the U.S. Department of Defense official stated in August 2022, and noted that the effectiveness of AFU may be rated at 12 out of 10 “just based on how impressive they’ve been to us in so many different ways. … They have found ways to do things that we might not have thought were possible.”

Automated unit management system

In order to meet the modern trends in the conduct of hostilities, it is necessary to introduce new technologies for the management of troops by creating a single information circuit for processing information, preparing management decisions, and managing troops on the battlefield.

For this reason, the use of modern automated unit management systems (AMS) is already being practiced in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In the future, it will become a part of the unified automated management system of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (UAMS of the Armed Forces of Ukraine).

Photo: Aerorozvidka

Delta, the military information system for decision support and situational awareness, is an example of that. This software product is being developed by the Center for Innovations and Development of Defense Technologies of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine with the support of Ukrainian and foreign partners. 

The Delta system provides servicemen of the AFU with information about the location of the enemy’s forces and assets and allows for real-time monitoring of the position of the enemy’s troops and operational accounting of detected objects for their further fire damage. It integrates information about the enemy on a digital map, data is taken from various sources: satellite image providers, radars, sensors, GPS trackers. The system can work on any device – laptop, tablet, or mobile phone, which is very convenient and effective.

Delta is used for planning operations and combat missions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, coordination between the units, secure exchange of information on the location of enemy forces, etc.

Read more: Digital weapons of war: applications and software that help Ukraine to win

It is important that the system is equipped with modern means of monitoring suspicious activity. Starting in 2021, the cyber units of Ukraine’s partner countries are constantly checking the system for vulnerabilities, attempts at unauthorized entry, data leakage, etc.

The effectiveness of this national system is only confirmed by the fact that Russia is extremely interested in breaking it and weakening its capabilities. For instance, on November 1, 2022, Russian media outlets and social media pages released information about the alleged hacking of the Delta system. In this regard, the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine noted that the system works stably, its data is reliably protected, and no unauthorized intrusions have been recorded.

“The Ministry of Defense has the best IT developers and cyber security specialists working on system protection, who monitor enemy activity in real time,” the Ministry of Defense emphasized.

Combat control system

Another improvement is the combat control system of the tactical link “Nettle” (“Кропива”), which was tested in real combat conditions. The system was designed to automate certain control tasks at the level of battalion, company, platoon, and a separate unit of equipment. It can be used by various units of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, particularly in artillery, armored, infantry or reconnaissance units.

Photo: ArmySOS

“Nettle” helps to combine the means of reconnaissance, control, and fire damage of various units of the Armed Forces into a single information field. According to the NATO classification, this system belongs to type C2 (command and control).

The Nettle system provides:
– access to an electronic map of the area with a GPS display of your own position;
– data exchange with other subscribers of the system. The data generally includes the positions of allied units, coordinates of detected targets, and short text messages;
– solutions of separate calculation tasks, such as calculation of the march, zone of fire damage, or artillery corrections;
– ensuring interaction and transmission of data from intelligence means – UAVs, radar, and sound-metric systems – in automatic mode.

To work with the combat system, you only need to know coordinates of the target, location of your artillery battery, and weather conditions. This data is entered into the tablet with “Nettle” – and the firing direction and the distance to the target are calculated automatically.

Photo: ArmySOS

As noted by military experts, the use of this combat system allows you to reduce the deployment time of, for example, an artillery battery by five times, the time to hit an unplanned target is reduced by almost three times, and the time to open counter-battery fire by ten times.

The situation in the air

An interesting Ukrainian development is an automated subsystem for collecting, processing, displaying, and analyzing information about the air situation – “Virazh-tablet” (Віраж-планшет). For example, this system helps the maintenance of the radar station of AFU to carry out airspace reconnaissance and accurately display the movement of air targets in real time. And then to issue radar information about the air situation to the remote indicator of the circular survey of the command post. It is worth noting that this development significantly reduced the time of transmission of information from the higher command post, in particular in matters of targeting or combat management.

During hostilities, this allows, in particular, the commander of the anti-aircraft missile division to promptly analyze the received information and make a decision to destroy the enemy’s air targets. For this, the commander distributes between the units that are deployed at the starting positions.

An active drones involvement 

Today, no there is no doubt that drones have a significant role in the Russian-Ukrainian war. The number of drones used by both sides is unprecedentedly high. Currently, Ukrainians use more than 20 different UAVs from manufacturers from all over the world against the enemy. In particular, drones are used for aerial reconnaissance and adjustment of fire play, and they play an important role in ensuring the combat operations of even individual units.

In July 2022, the Army of Drones fundraising initiative was launched.
By February 2023, it helped to provide 1,765 attack and reconnaissance drones for Ukrainian defenders.
Screenshot from Mykhailo Fedorov. Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine

Each drone has its own advantages and disadvantages, so the military chooses the right models depending on the tasks. Civilian drones have gained popularity due to their low cost, lightness, and ease of control. 

The Armed Forces use several types of Mavics. The DJI Mavic 3 UAV, for example, has a good optical camera that allows you to shoot video in 4K format from a height of up to 6 km and transmit it to the operator’s remote control, and the thermal imager can monitor the situation at night. The device accelerates to 72 km/h, has a flight time of 31 minutes, remote control radius of 5 km.

Photo: Aerorozvidka

Ukrainian servicemen also use DJI Phantom drones for reconnaissance. The drone can detect obstacles and automatically return to the take-off point if the signal is suppressed by enemy “jammers”, and transmit a video signal for 8 km in real-time in 1080p quality.

DJI Matrice UAVs can shoot high-quality video, focus on objects and identify potential threats from a distance. It can work in the rain, as well as in temperatures from -20 to +50 degrees Celsius. The drone transmits video in 1080p resolution at a distance of up to 15 km. DJI AirSense technology informs the operator about the surrounding conditions, such as temperature, wind speed, and the presence of aircraft and UAVs within a radius of 20 km.

In addition to drones and other innovations, the Starlink satellite Internet system is widely used to ensure stable communication between various units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the absence of electricity and interruptions to the Internet connection. This allows for quick interaction in the area of ​​hostilities. For example, information about the location of targets is transmitted to artillery calculations by drones via Starlink satellites. This approach allows Ukrainian gunners to work immediately after the drones detect Russian targets. 

Chatbots to collect information from civilians

Simultaneously with the use of modern technologies to obtain operational information, Telegram bots are widely used to collect information from civilians. For example, Delta has integrated chatbots developed by the Ministry of Digital Transformation – “eVorog” (eEnemy) and the Security Service of Ukraine – “STOP Russian War”.

Read more: From Ukrainians to Ukrainians. 5 digital tools and products created to help in wartime

In other words, high-quality cooperation between Ukrainians and the Armed Forces of Ukraine has been established. With the help of the chat-bot eEnemy, every report (it is possible to upload photos and videos) about the movement of Russian occupiers and enemy equipment is quickly transferred to the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This helps Ukrainian defenders to quickly track the invaders and strike their positions as effectively as possible. Residents can also report collaborators via eEnemy, as well as inform the State Emergency Service of the discovered explosive objects.

Another convenient opportunity for civilians to help the Armed Forces of Ukraine is @stop_russian_war_bot – an official bot that can be used to report the movement of Russian saboteurs and enemy military equipment. The Security Service of Ukraine said that the chatbot received thousands of messages about enemy positions and equipment from the first days of the full-scale Russian invasion. 

For years now, information and quick access to it has been considered a key element of success in various fields. And modern warfare has not become an exception. Automated unit management systems, drones, and even chatbots became essential for collecting and utilizing accurate information as soon as possible – and therefore gaining an advantage against the enemy forces. And Ukrainian forces are not just using all the available innovations to ensure victory, but also are constantly improving those systems based on their combat experience.