Russian school children to be taught combat drone operation basics

11 months ago 13

All Russian school children are set to be taught the basics of combat drone operation in an updated curriculum, the UK Defense Ministry claimed in a Monday morning intelligence update.

The UK Defense Ministry cited Russian Senator Artem Sheikin as saying that the lessons will include unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) reconnaissance and countering enemy drones.

The skills were more cultural than practical, the UK said, but "the addition of UAV skills does highlight how Russia has identified the use of tactical UAVs in Ukraine as an enduring component of contemporary war."

Russia's Lancet loitering munition has proved effective in striking and disabling Ukrainian armor during Kyiv's slow summer offensive. Moscow has used waves of Iranian-made Shahed series drones to strike deep into Ukrainian territory, though the slow-moving aerial vehicles are usually down by air defenders.

Ukraine has also used drones to great effect in the war. Turkish Bayraktar TB2 combat drones were widely used by Kyiv in the early phase of the war. Smaller tactical quadcopters continue to be used to drop grenades and mortar bombs on enemy troops, and Ukraine has popularized the use of naval drones to strike at the  Black Sea Fleet's port in Sevastopol. These naval drones are also suspected to have been used in attacks on the Crimean Kerch Strait Bridge.

Kyiv after Russian drone attack, 2022 (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Militarized curriculum 

On Monday morning, two drones struck two non-residential buildings in Moscow, Mayor Sergey Sobyanin. The use of drones has been restricted in Russian cities following an attack on the Kremlin. Russia also claims to have intercepted 11 aerial drones attacking an ammunition depot over Crimea on Monday morning.

The drone lessons are not the only such militarized training being introduced into the Russian curriculum.

"The UAV lessons join assault rifle training, hand grenade skills, and combat first aid in the revised ‘Basics of Life Safety’ syllabus for year 10 and 11 students, due to be mandated from 1 September 2023," said the UK Defense Ministry on Monday.

TASS reported in November 2022 that the curriculum would already begin testing in January 2023, and could see high school students put through around 35 hours of training. The training would be included in an existing mandatory course called Fundamentals of Life Safety (FLS), but teachers have expressed concern that the lesson plans are already overloaded with subjects.

"Russia’s renewed emphasis on military induction for children is largely an effort to cultivate a culture of militarized patriotism rather than develop genuine capability," the UK Defense Ministry said.

Critics have suggested that the introduction of militarism in the Russian curriculum is to provide a basis for conscripts and volunteers, who when drafted in the partial mobilization in 2022 suffered from little training and preparedness.

The invasion of Ukraine has also been added to the 10th and 11th graders’ history lesson plans. Younger students are also required to attend weekly patriotic classes called “Important Conversations.”

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