(Reuters) – Russia plans to produce more than 32,000 drones each year by 2030 and for domestic producers to account for 70% of the market, the TASS news agency cited First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov as saying on Saturday.
Drones have been widely used by Moscow and Kyiv since Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and both sides are sharply increasing military production as the war drags on.
“The annual production volume of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – excluding educational UAVs – is planned at 32,500 units,” Belousov told TASS. “This is almost three times higher than current production volumes.
“At the same time, it is planned that the share of Russian UAVs will make up 70% of the market in this type of UAV.”
Moscow has been using the cheaply-produced, Iranian-made Shahed drones, known in Ukraine for their noisy petrol engines, more and more frequently in aerial assaults on Ukrainian infrastructure far behind the war’s front lines in the east and south of the country.
Russia will finance the national project on UAVs with 696 billion roubles ($7.66 billion) by 2030, Belousov said, and will publish more details this month.
Last year President Vladimir Putin said that UAVs could be used across virtually all industries, not just the military.
Russian drones initially confused Ukrainian air defences as they were harder to detect than missiles, while shooting down cheaply-made drones with expensive air defence missiles was not the most cost-effective strategy.
Ukraine, meanwhile, has intensively used FPV drones – small drones originally meant for personal civilian use but modified for the battlefield – as a cheap but effective option for reconnaissance and attacks, a tactic Russia has copied.
Ukraine said in December it planned to produce more than 11,000 medium- and long-range attack drones in 2024, as well as one million FPV (first-person-view) drones, widely in demand on the front line.
($1 = 90.9205 roubles)
(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Gareth Jones)