“Delta”, the software that allows Ukraine to resist Russia

The Guardian describes a rather anonymous building in the vicinity of Zaporizhia, Ukraine. In this place, a few dozen computer screens shine and as many individuals are busy, concentrating on the real-time update of a platform called “Delta”, which some in the Ukrainian army consider to be the one of the most important weapons in the war against invading Russia.

Delta is a kind of Google Maps of the ongoing war and its animated fronts, accessible in real time to Ukrainian soldiers in the field thanks to Starlink Satellite Internet Miracles. A few clicks and a unit can see where enemy units are, other clicks and they can observe their supposed movements: better predict, plan, aim and strike.

Delta’s simple interface offers a fairly precise and real-time view of the situation on the ground. Information about each enemy unit, its training, its leaders – anything that could be gleaned about it from the web or social media.

Delta is the result of a center for innovation created by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, and from which also emanates the famous group named Aerorozvidkaunit dedicated to the war by the drones which, since the beginning of the Russian invasion and even well before, showed its crucial importance in modern conflicts.

The software is typical of what makes the difference between the Ukrainian army and the Russian juggernaut facing it: the second is a rigid, vertical, old-fashioned post-Soviet monolith when the first tries to get out of this straitjacket too rigid to adopt a vision of things where information circulates more fluidly, between units that are better empowered.

One of the team members in charge, Vitalii, explains to the Guardian that “the main difference between the Russian army and the Ukrainian army lies in the horizontal links created between the units”. Vitalii adds: “We are winning because Ukrainians are natural horizontal communicators.”

Inherited from the Soviet era, Doctrine “top down” of the Russian army cost him dearlywhen initiatives like Delta offer increased agility – and many possibilities for taking the initiative – to Ukrainian units and their commands.

The software is an emanation of the “start-up” spirit of young Ukrainians embarked on the war, many of them coming from the tech and IT sector.

“They are not Ministry of Defense bureaucrats. They were part of the private sector and were drafted to serve in the army”explains to the British daily Tatiana, another official of the innovation center. “They started creating Delta with their minds and with their own hands, because they have the culture of agile development,” she continues. “The creative process is short. You develop, you test, you launch.”

“Our bullets are information”

Little or no uniform in the center of Zaporijia, which is moreover only one of the six “hubs” of the same type, mounted on the outskirts of the main fronts of the war from which they manage this precious information.

Specialists in OSINT (“Open source intelligence”, intelligence in open source) are in charge of skimming the social networks, in search of any information, post, photo, geolocation allowing to feed Delta information in real time on the nature, positioning and movements of enemy units.

As explained a recent Wall Street Journal articlethey can also count on the valuable information sent, beyond the lines and in occupied territories, by Ukrainian individuals transformed into indispensable informants, and against whom Russia cannot do much.

Elsewhere in the center, a workshop dedicated to the preparation, repair or experimentation on drones, often of civilian origin and also widely used to collect the uninterrupted flow of military intelligence centralized by Delta.

Of course, Delta is supposed to be as integrated as possible – its programmers go out of their way to be able to connect the received Western armaments to it – and is accessible to any unit with the software and an Internet connection, generally thanks to Starlink. The platform is also based on satellite images provided by allied countries or various private firms having put their eyes in the sky in the service of Ukraine.

To further sharpen this knowledge of the situation, analyzes and points are made daily, and made available to anyone who wishes to exploit them.

As the Guardian reports, attention is currently focused on Melitopol, a city occupied by the Russians, who have made it an important logistics hub, and where Ukrainian forces struck a blow against a base in December.

However, not all of the Ukrainian army uses Delta: in an institution whose oldest cadres were trained during the Soviet era, the transition to the modern era of warfare and to the above-mentioned horizontality is not not always the easiest. But it’s probably only a matter of time before the software is more formally adopted and universally used.

“That’s the big story”, explains Shlomo about his work on Delta. “We write what will change the war. Our weapons are computers. Our bullets are information.”

“Delta”, the software that allows Ukraine to resist Russia