March 27, 2024

An Air Self Defense


An Air Self Defense
An artist's impression of Shahed 136 drones swarming an airport. Khamenei.ir, Wikimedia Commons

Russian companies are constructing their own air defense systems amid increasing drone threats. Nearly 300 tenders for the acquisition of counter-UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) have been identified, according to independent investigative outlet Vazhniye Istori. Buyers include Rosneft, Lukoil, Bashneft, Slavneft, Transneft, and Rosseti.

To safeguard their enterprises, the state-owned Rosneft, the largest Russian oil company, intends to deploy portable anti-UAV systems, anti-drone guns, stationary systems for electronic detection and suppression of drones, as well as protective structures such as nets stretched between masts to detain and immobilize UAVs. Energy company Rosseti also employs grids, concrete blocks, and electronic detection systems at its substations.

Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian territory and annexed Crimea commenced in mid-June 2022, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. By the end of August 2023, regional authorities reported 511 drone attacks. The frequency of attacks surged in March 2024, with almost 40–50 drones targeting Russia nightly. Many of these attacks target energy facilities. By February 8, 2024, at least six major Russian oil refineries had been targeted.

Measures adopted by Russian companies might prove inadequate against drones. Experts interviewed by Vazhniye Istori journalists suggest that domestically-made Ukrainian drones are behind the attacks. These UAVs are similar to the Iranian Shahed, which Russia actively employs. These experts argue that neither nets nor anti-drone guns, designed to disrupt communication with operators, are effective against such drones.

For instance, Syzran Oil Refinery adopted nets and a portable drone suppression complex in early 2023. Despite these efforts, the refinery fell victim to a successful drone attack on March 16, 2024.

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