Is the decline in the effectiveness of Western weapons in Ukraine inevitable?

Since the start of the Ukrainian conflict, the delivery of Western weapons, from the United States or Europe, has often made the headlines in the world press. Whether Turkish Bayraktar drones, American HIMARS long-range artillery systems or Leopard 2 Germans, all were presented, upon their arrival in Ukraine, as weapons capable of influencing the course, not of the battle, but of the war itself.

If some of this equipment, notably the European artillery systems Caesar, Pzh2000 and Archer, have retained their aura of efficiency, and their operational superiority over Russian equipment, even after two years of combat, many have, however, quickly reached their relative efficiency ceiling. This is particularly the case for Western armored vehicles, certainly more effective than Russian models, but not significantly enough to influence the combat itself.

Other equipment, on the contrary, experienced a so-called “bell-shaped” efficiency curve, with remarkable operational performances during their initial implementation, followed, after a few weeks to a few months, by a downward curve. very sensitive, as the Russians learned to guard against it.

While the West is reaching the end of its technological jokers likely to be sent to Ukraine, to contain the rise of Russian power, are there solutions to fight against this transitional efficiency, in order to maintain an operational ascendancy which, if it will never be a game-changer, will it, however, rebalance the balance of power in favor of Kyiv?

The TB2 Bayraktar, from providential drone to unusable system in just a few months

Along with the American Javelin anti-tank missile, the TB2 Bayraktar drone was, inescapably, one of the Ukrainian technological heroes of the start of the conflict. From the first days of the Russian offensive against Ukraine, while a considerable mechanized column was heading from Belarus towards the Ukrainian capital, the small Turkish MALE drone played, in fact, a determining role in containing this offensive.

TB2 Bayraktar Ukraine
The images of TB2 Bayraktar strikes at the start of the conflict left a lasting impression. However, the window of effectiveness of this lightweight male drone was particularly short.

Delivered a few months before the start of the conflict, the Ukrainian TB2s, armed with light MAM-C precision munitions, harassed, in fact, the entire Russian column, very effectively eliminating its air defenses, and especially its logistics vehicles, notably fuel supply trucks.

This placed immense pressure on the mobility of the column which, unable to overflow due to the nature of the terrain, found itself at a standstill, and within range of artillery raids or Ukrainian commandos. The Turkish drone also played a major role in the elimination of the cruiser Moskva, by focusing the attention of the ship's air defense, which did not see the arrival of the Neptune missiles which were targeting it.

These operational successes in February, March and April 2022 made the reputation of the Bayraktar, which has been ordered, since that date, by around fifteen new armed forces, including Poland and Romania.

However, from May 2022, this operational efficiency, which had largely benefited from the spectacular images relayed on social networks by Ukraine, declined as quickly as the fleet of Ukrainian TB2s. The Russians, in fact, quickly learned to protect themselves from this threat, by deploying, and especially by moving, their air defense systems differently.

To the point that in the summer of 2022, after only five months of war, the few surviving Ukrainian TB2s were almost no longer employed for attack missions, and flew only beyond the interception capabilities of the Russian DCA, for intelligence purposes, reducing its operational potential almost to nothing.

Scalp, Himars… The effectiveness of Western weapons is rapidly eroding in Ukraine as they are used

the trajectory of erosion of the effectiveness of the Turkish drone is not exceptional, in Ukraine, quite the contrary. Several of the equipment most highlighted in the media during their delivery to Kyiv followed a relatively similar route.

SCALP-ER Zelensky
SCALP-ER missiles continue to be effectively used by the Ukrainians, but the interception rate has increased significantly over the months.

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