The world’s largest producer of titanium is located in the small city of Verkhnyaya Salda, Russia, about 1,800 kilometers east of Moscow. In fact, Russia is so blessed with an abundance of this tough, light, heat- and corrosion-resistant metal, that it once made whole submarines out of titanium. Unsurprisingly, Russian fighter jets like the Sukhoi Su-30 make heavy use of lightweight titanium alloys in their airframes, and more use of titanium in their engines. It may be five times more costly than alternatives, but for the best performance, it’s worth it.
Over the weekend, four of those Su-30 jets, along with a MiG-29, were destroyed by a squadron of aircraft launched from Ukraine. Those aircraft were made from cardboard and rubber bands.
The cost of an Su-30 is currently estimated to be about $40 million. The cost of the Sypaq Corvo drones that took them out starts at a reported $670. Russia claims it shot down two of the pelican-sized cardboard drones. But it didn’t stop the rest from taking out not only those jets, but—and this is kind of hilarious—a pair of Pantsir anti-aircraft guns and an S-300 surface-to-air missile battery. Even if Ukraine used a dozen of those drones to take out these targets, the cost-to-destruction ratio was about 25,000:1.
Welcome to a new world.
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