UK drones donated to Ukraine have destroyed £1bn-worth of Russian hardware

Since Vladimir Putin's invasion, the UK has provided more than 4,000 drones to Ukraine
Since Vladimir Putin's invasion, the UK has provided more than 4,000 drones to Ukraine - Diego Herrera Carcedo/Anadolu/Getty

British drones donated to Ukraine have destroyed £1 billion-worth of Russian hardware, the Defence Secretary has revealed.

Grant Shapps told a delegation of Ukrainian ministers that since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, the UK has provided more than 4,000 drones to the country.

Speaking at the Ukrainian Drone Defence Forum in London on Monday, Mr Shapps said: “Our Ukrainian partners conservatively estimate that UK drones have destroyed over £1 billion-worth of Russian hardware.”

The drones given to Ukraine, of which there are more than 30 different types, have cost the UK up to £500 million. Over the next year the UK will spend a further £325 million on drones for Ukraine.

Grant Shapps said UK surveillance drones had overcome 'highly capable' Russian air-defence systems
Grant Shapps said UK surveillance drones had overcome 'highly capable' Russian air-defence systems - Jeff Gilbert Photography

“Our co-operation has had an outstanding impact on the battlefield,” Mr Shapps added.

It comes after the Ministry of Defence revealed it had created a radio-wave weapon which can destroy swarms of drones in one shot.

The Radio Frequency Directed Energy Weapon beams disruptive radio waves at vehicles and drones in order to fry the electronics inside and costs 10p a shot.

James Cartlidge, minister for defence procurement, said the radio-wave weapon showed the UK was “a world leader on innovative military kit”.

It is understood that when the UK was developing drones for Ukraine, it rapidly learnt that there were very few capable of operating in the electronic warfare environment, leading to the UK narrowing down the types of drones it made. The Telegraph understands the British military’s focus is creating drones that can withstand electronic warfare.

Mr Shapps told the Ukrainian delegation that UK surveillance drones had overcome “highly capable” Russian air-defence systems in Crimea, as he cited how UK medium lift drones – which are capable of transporting medium sized loads of cargo, such as food, with a lift capacity of up to 55Ib –had re-supplied Ukrainian forces over the Dnipro River with generators, food, water, and ammunition.

He also referenced the UK drones which guided Ukrainian artillery and missiles onto Russian targets and one-way UK attack drones which had all succeeded in “making their mark”.

It comes as Mr Shapps will call for Nato to “wake up” and increase defence spending at the London Defence Conference on Wednesday.

Mr Shapps will pledge that when goes to the Washington Nato Summit this summer he will reiterate his calls for 2.5 per cent of GDP to be spent on defence as the new Nato baseline.

Last month Rishi Sunak pledged to increase Britain’s defence budget to 2.5 per cent of national wealth by 2030.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir Starmer has been urged by Geoff Hoon, Tony Blair’s defence secretary, to commit to increasing defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP, as he said hitting the benchmark was “vitally important for this country and indeed for Nato and the European continent”.

Labour has committed to 2.5 per cent but without a timeframe.

A party source told The Telegraph: “We will set out a credible plan to get to 2.5 per cent as part of our Defence Review, if we win the general election. This is when we can open the books and have the information we need to properly assess the threats we face and capabilities needed.”

Mr Shapps will tell the defence conference: “I will make the case for Nato to bring all those who benefit from the alliance’s umbrella of protection into the organisation.

“Some European countries effectively benefit from Nato coverage – they enjoy the benefits of freedom and liberty and yet fail to sign up to the continent’s collective deterrence.

“Yet when the wolf is at the backdoor of European security there should be no place for neutrality.”

Speaking ahead of his visit to Singapore for the Shangri-La Security Conference next week, Mr Shapps will say he has a “clear message” for the Indo-Pacific.

“If our partners in the Indo-Pacific choose to overlook illegal invasions in Europe it has consequences for international security everywhere,” he will say.

“Including in the Indo-Pacific where territorial disputes dot the region.”

The International Institute for Strategic Studies has reported that most states in South and south-east Asia have “hedged their positions” and are wary of criticising Moscow, with a level of sympathy existing for Russia’s position.

After Putin visited Beijing earlier this month, Mr Shapps warned that  the deepening Russia-China ties were a direct threat to democracy.

Speaking at the conference on Wednesday Mr Shapps will add: “My message will be simple, help us to help yourselves.”