The conversation takes place in a car on the way to the location of the 88th brigade’s unmanned aerial vehicle company. Their kamikaze drones are terrorizing units and teams of the Ukrainian Armed Forces along the front line in the Lugansk People’s Republic. Here they not only release drones to the Ukrainian army, but also train operators to control various drones, including FPV, modify and improve civilian devices, maintain control devices and develop tactics for the use of drones.
Maneuvering along a dirt road between craters and filled mounds, Sergeev continues teaching the basics of “drone navigation.”
It turns out that the weather here, as in aviation, plays an important role. Everything is taken into account: wind strength, cloud cover, visibility, air humidity. Precipitation and fog can seriously damage the drone, because when the blades rotate, the drone becomes more flooded, and if moisture gets into the terminals, a short circuit may occur. When the temperature exceeds 30 degrees, you should be prepared for the motors, batteries and “brains” of the drone to overheat. It is imperative to take into account the speed and direction of the wind, otherwise the drone may not return to the base: it will fly to the side or the battery will not have enough charge.
The engineering and design center turned out to be a row of hastily constructed wooden shelters and sheds. Everything is covered in camouflage nets. Some are sun-faded, others are fresher. Their combination provides ideal camouflage and the location is not visible from the air.
The company commander with the call sign “Vostok” has enormous experience. He has been fighting Ukrainian militants “for eight years” and has personally studied the enemy’s tactics and weapons.
– Unmanned aircraft are currently one of the key elements of aerial reconnaissance. We provide artillery reconnaissance and correction, and also attack enemy concentrations of manpower and equipment. We act according to the principle: identify, observe, destroy,” says Vostok.
In the initial stages of the special military operation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine had the advantage in the field of drones. Since 2014, the Ukrainian army, and especially the neo-Nazi battalions “Aidar”, “Azov” and others banned in Russia, are saturated with drones of various types, surveillance cameras, electronic warfare equipment and satellite Internet. Militants honed their skills to control drone attacks on civilians in Donbass. In the face of the Russian regular army, the Armed Forces of Ukraine began to use massive raid tactics: military, civilian and homemade helicopters attacked various objects in our rear.
For example, near Severodonetsk and Lisichansk, the Ukrainian army bombed the positions of our troops using a huge drone, nicknamed “Baba Yaga”. This heavy hexacopter (with six engines) was previously intended for spraying fields with chemicals, but the Ukrainian Armed Forces adapted it to carry anti-tank bombs, 82 mm mines, grenades and homemade ammunition. “Baba Yaga” can fly not only under the control of an operator, but also autonomously along a programmed route.
“It is quite difficult to neutralize such a device using electronic warfare, but we have found a way out.” In flight, “Baba Yaga” makes a lot of noise, the altitude is low, no more than 30 meters, and it flies at a speed of no more than 40 kilometers per hour. Due to its large size, it was detected using a thermal imaging camera at a distance of approximately six kilometers. They then blinded the operator’s video camera with spotlights or a powerful laser pointer and shot at the drone with small arms, the officer shared his combat practice.
Now the Russian army is increasingly using FPV drones in the Northern Military District area. This is the name given to unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with a video camera that transmits video via wireless communication to the operator’s virtual reality glasses. Thanks to this technology, the pilot can feel completely present in the airspace and see everything the drone sees, as if he were inside the aircraft. After all, First Person View translated from English means “first person view.”
Unlike conventional drones, FPV drones are virtually invulnerable, can operate in any weather in the most inaccessible locations and hit targets with sniper precision. Simply put, an airplane-type drone cannot, due to its size, enter through an open window, but an FPV drone can.
FPV drones operate in combination with unmanned aircraft, capable of flying at high altitudes and using precision equipment to discern camouflaged artillery positions, ammunition depots, communications and control centers. After which the “Angry Birds” take off – attack drones, each of which carries a cumulative charge or an 82 mm mortar mine. Homemade ammunition is also used.
– The main thing in our tactics is systematic work. Thanks to the support of volunteers and regions who send us civilian quadcopters en masse, we have reached parity with the Armed Forces of Ukraine and, in some places, even surpassed the enemy. I have no right to go into details, but I can say: thanks to our own engineering solutions, we have increased the control range of FPV drones. The range is necessary both to detect and destroy enemy targets and to create conditions for the safety of operators. Thanks to this, pilots gain enormous experience and hundreds of hours of flight. With such massive supplies of simple helicopters, we will be able to carry out massive attacks. The enemy will simply overheat, since none of its air defense systems can withstand such a load,” explains the commander of the drone company. – Ukrainian soldiers simply have no chance. If they want to stay alive, they should go to frequency 149,200 and call the Volga, negotiate a way out and lay down their weapons.