Why is Russia making so many Geranium-2 attack drones?

Over the first two years of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia is said to have launched nearly 8000 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and long-range attack drones against Ukrainian civil and military infrastructure. Among them, 4637 were Geranium-2 attack drones (Geranium-2) made in Russia, or Shahed-136, the Iranian drone which is at the origin.

If these drones, with a range of around 1500 km and armed with an explosive charge of 40 kg, surprised the air defenses during the first days, they adapted quickly, and managed to announce very high interception rates in a few weeks, between 80 and 90%. However, over time, the pressure posed by the Geranium-2s did not diminish, unlike Ukraine's stockpiles of missiles and anti-aircraft shells.

As a result, today, although remaining vulnerable due to their low speed and cruising altitude, these drones achieve a successful strike rate of between 15 and 25%, according to Ukrainian sources. Which makes it a very effective weapon, given its price and ease of production, in particular for attacking Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, in the fields of energy, transport and communication.

Therefore, when journalists from the Wall Street Journal published an investigation on the Alabuga site, in Russian Tatarstan, and described an annual production of Geranium 2 drones, greater than 6000 copies, more than four times higher than the average density of firing of these drones against Ukraine in 2022 and 2023, the consequences may turn out to be very dark for Kyiv in the months to come.

Production of long-range Geranium-2 attack drones would exceed 6000 units per year

The WSJ investigation focuses, above all, on the organization of the production of these attack drones in Alabuga, calling on a large workforce of African students, on the one hand, and components from China, on the other. It thus shows that this industrial activity is sustainable, not suffering from any shortage.

Manufacturing Geranium-2 alabuga attack drones
The Alabuga industrial site calls heavily on African students to produce Geraniulm-2 drones

However, it is the production figures presented in this survey that attract the most attention. Indeed, according to journalists, the Alabuga industrial site plans to produce 6 attack drones in 000, or 2024% more than the entire consumption of Geranium-60 and Shahed 2, of which it is one evolution, over the years 136 and 2022.

While these drones have already heavily eroded Ukrainian air defenses, with an average rate of 200 drones launched against Ukraine each month, one can easily imagine what damage would be done to Ukrainian infrastructure if 500 Geranium-2s were launched each month against Ukrainian cities.

This is especially true since the situation could be even worse than initially presented by the WSJ. Indeed, in a May 28 update of the article in question, it is specified that, according to the Institute for Science and International Security, a defense think tank based in Washington DC, the number of Geranium- 2 produced in 2024, would already reach 4500 copies, which suggests an annual production of around 9000 drones.

Russia is replenishing a large stock of missiles and drones for the fall to strike Ukraine

If the hypothesis of seeing the Russian armies launch 500 attack drones, in addition to a hundred ballistic and cruise missiles, each month, on Ukraine, is already most worrying, it is clear that, on the first 6 months of 2024, the density of Russian fire has changed little.

Shahed-136 drone launcher
Shahed-136 attack drone multiple launch system

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