Ukraine has launched a crowdfunding campaign to build 100 multi-purpose unmanned surface vessels (USA), days after a handful of the marine drones ambushed Russia’s Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol port.

The initiative aims to fund the “world’s first naval fleet of drones,” as a deterrence to the Russian naval ship-launched cruise missiles attacking Ukrainian waters and cities.

Outlining the effort’s importance, Kyiv revealed that 20 percent of the 4,500 missiles Russia fired at Ukraine have been fired from the sea. 

Sevastopol Port Attack

The statement disclosed that the October 29 attack, coordinated with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles, damaged three Russian naval ships, including the Black Sea Fleet flagship Admiral Makarov. 

The extent of the damage has not been independently verified. However, the attack did manage to keep the Russian fleet confined to port, USNI News revealed last week.

Asymmetric Warfare Tool

Ukrainian forces need the naval drones to conduct “long-range maritime reconnaissance and coastal surveillance, escorting and supporting the traditional fleet, convoying merchant ships, zoning in artillery fire, defending our bases and countering amphibious operations,” the UNITED24 website explained.

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According to the statement, the “asymmetric” warfare requirement is particularly striking as the Ukrainian navy lost 80 percent of its fleet following the Russian occupation of Crimea in 2014.

Drone Features

The initiative specifies the vessel’s length at 5.5 meters (18 feet) and weight of up to 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds), including 200 kilograms (441 pounds) of combat payload.

The vessel should have a range of up to 800 kilometers (497 miles) and an endurance of 60 hours, with a maximum speed of 80 kilometers/ hour (50 miles/ hour). 

Additional features include video subsystems (including night vision) and backup communication modules.

The initiative pegs the drone’s cost at $250,000, which includes the cost of a “ground-based, autonomous control station, transportation and storage system, as well as a data processing center.”

Ukraine’s unmanned surface vessels. Image: UNITED24

$3.26 Million Collected the First Day

Ukrainian ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, told Naval News that the campaign collected 120 million Ukrainian hryvnia ($3.26 million) on its first day, enough to buy 12 vessels.

“A lot of companies, businesses, and private people are donating money for the defense of Ukraine,” Bodnar told the outlet.

“For example, Lithuanian journalist Andrius Tapinas together with the people of Lithuania collected $250,000 which will be transferred via UNITED24 for these drones.”