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Ukraine Army of Drones – Ukraine expands it’s Army of Drones for front line

Ukraine Army of Drones

Ukraine  Expands it’s Army of Drones on front line against the Russian army

Ukraine says it is rapidly increasing its production of drones as demand grows on the front line.

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The government has relaxed import laws and scrapped taxes for drone parts and equipment.

The expansion is being funded by a successful fundraising campaign called the Army of Drones.

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More than $108m (£87m) has been raised with the help of celebrity supporters like Star Wars’ Mark Hamill.

As well as buying and building drones for the war, the money is being spent on training new pilots for the front line.

The BBC was invited to a training session for Ukraine’s latest group of drone pilots in a secret location on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Soldiers on both sides of the conflict are also increasingly reliant on smaller and relatively cheap drones that are traditionally used for filming.

The most common drone seen on the front line is the DJI Mavic which costs less than $2,000 (£1,615).

Last year, its Chinese manufacturer banned exports to Ukraine and Russia insisting its products are “for civilian use only”.

Slava says the ban has made it harder to get hold of the drones but Ukraine has still been able to import thousands.

Ukraine Army Drones

But he admits they need more and also need to develop new types as they are so often shot down or jammed by electronic weapons.

Organisers of the Army of Drones campaign say they have built or purchased an extra 3,300 drones. Some 400 people have even sent their own hobby drones in the mail.

Other nationwide drone projects are being advertised in many shops and service stations across Ukraine as the government insists drones give its military a competitive advantage on the battlefield.

Army Drones campaign on shops

Ukraine also changed its tax code rules so importers of drones do not pay import duty and VAT for drones and their components.

“Drones today are a fundamental technology in terms of the significance,” said Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov when announcing the changes.

Mr Fedorov has been leading the Army of Drones fundraising campaign. In his government office in Kyiv he proudly displays a prototype of a new secret kamikaze drone being built in Ukraine.

Mr Fedorov makes no attempt to hide the deadly nature of these drones designed to smash into targets like soldiers or tanks.

But like the rest of his government, he refuses to talk about recent drone strikes on Russian territory.

Russia has deployed hundreds of drones against Ukraine, particularly with large Iranian-made Shahed kamikaze drones.

But Ukraine has never admitted to going on the offensive inside Russian territory.

Asked if he would condone drone attacks on Russia, Mr Fedorov said: “I support everything that will bring us victory and stop Russia.”

Mykhailo Fedorov says drones are giving Ukraine a competitive edge over Russia

On his official Telegram account, Mr Fedorov has also boasted of a Ukrainian drone called the R18 that “can fly from Kyiv to Moscow and back”.