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Russia Faces Commercial Drone Shortage as War Increases Demand

Denis Voronin / Moskva News Agency

Russia is experiencing a shortage of commercial drones amid increased demand from the military and China’s exit from the Russian market, the Kommersant business daily reported Thursday.

Prices have risen by an average of 30% since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in February, Kommersant reported, citing industry sources.

Prices for drones used in the oil and gas industry, as well as search and rescue operations, shot up by 200% after China’s DJI, which accounted for 90% of Russia’s consumer drone market, announced it was suspending business in Russia and Ukraine in late April.

“What used to cost around 1 million rubles [$17,500] now sells at more than 3 million rubles [$53,000],” Nikolai Ryashin, CEO of Russia’s drone nest maker Hive. He also predicted that many of the drones could begin to suffer from power issues later in 2022 due to supply chain issues for high-capacity batteries.

Many commercial drones are sent to aid Russian troops in eastern Ukraine, said Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. Ukraine is also estimated to be using 6,000 commercial drones on the battlefield, repurposed for military needs.

“They’re way more affordable than those produced by the military-industrial complex and can be purchased en masse,” Pukhov told Kommersant.

“Though they’re out of stock in the capital, people are buying up the equipment in other regions.”

Russian industry sources told Kommersant that the currently available commercial drones are only suitable for surveillance due to their limited payload, battery and flight range.

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