New Delhi: Eleven months into the invasion, the Biden administration is scrambling to prevent Iran from supplying drones to Russia after witnessing the extent to which the Iranian Shahed-136 drones — also called “lawn mowers” or “mopeds” — wreaked havoc in war-torn Ukraine.
The war has shown how, with their precision strike capabilities, cheap drones, especially the ones like the Iran-made Shahed-136, have democratisated the modern battlefield.
It is not as if drones have brought in precision strikes for the first time. Precision strike capability has always been the focus of the military. But it comes at a huge cost.
For instance, precision-guided munitions accounted for 8 per cent of total munitions used by US-led coalition forces against the Saddam Hussein regime in the first Gulf War (1991). But their share in the total cost incurred on munitions by the US-led coalition was approximately 84 per cent.
One of the mainstays of precision strike missiles with the US military is the 1,300 kg Tomahawk subsonic cruise missile that costs about USD 2 million a piece at current prices, according to the London-based security and international affairs think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).