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Ukraine to launch all-female drone unit amid Russian manpower advantage

Women aspiring to join the unit will have to undergo a strict selection process, including competitive evaluations, combat mission assessments, extensive training, and more.
Ukrainian women in military uniforms
Ukrainian women in female military uniforms. Photo: Ministry of Defense
Ukraine to launch all-female drone unit amid Russian manpower advantage

Ukraine intends to form an all-female unit to work with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in cooperation with the country’s Defense Forces, according to an announcement by Ihor Lutsenko, founder of the Aerial Reconnaissance Support Center and the commander of the drone company “Order of Santiago.”

The volunteer unit will focus on operating and maintaining UAV systems. Both Ukraine and Russia have been using UAV drones for reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeted attacks since the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022.

Women aged 18 and above are eligible to apply for the unit. The applicants will have to undergo these steps in the selection process:

  • Competitive selection;

  • Evaluating their ability to perform combat missions;

  • Extensive training;

  • Background checks by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU);

  • A final decision on enrollment in the unit.

While prior experience in piloting, operating, repairing, or maintaining UAVs or similar systems is considered a plus, it is not mandatory. Military skills, such as those of a sapper, medic, or shooter, and experience in programming and technical specialties like electronics and radio are also considered beneficial. However, Lutsenko emphasized that the most important quality is a willingness to learn and work as part of a team.

“Unfortunately, the enemy has a great advantage in manpower, so we should not neglect any ideas that allow us to reduce this gap,” Lutsenko said.

Women in Ukrainian army

Since 2022, the number of women in Ukraine’s Armed Forces has surged by 40%, totaling approximately 43,000 servicewomen. Before the full-scale invasion, women were confined mainly to non-combat roles like medical specialists and clerks, but after the lifting of restrictions on military roles,  women could also serve in combat and leadership positions.

The age limit for women enlisting has also been raised to 60, matching that of men, and girls now have access to military education at all levels. As of 2024, Ukraine has over 60,000 women serving.

Ukraine also has ongoing discussions about mobilizing women into the armed forces to bolster its defense capabilities as the country faces depleting male mobilization reserves. However, so far, Ukraine’s leadership consistently rejected the mobilization of women.


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