Ukraine reportedly assembles half of its 1,000 FPV drone fleet for attacking Russian targets [Video]

Ukraine Russian FPV drones

In what may well be more bad news for soldiers in the renewed Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, a video has materialized indicating just how quickly authorities are apparently assembling the fleet of 1,000 FPV drones said they’d obtain for kamikaze strikes on invading troops.

The video was recently uploaded to several social media sites, including what may have been the original YouTube post in early February. In it, a voice-over describes footage from two different clips of multiple FPV drones stacked high in an unidentified location. Later shots show similarly abundant reserves of rocket-propelled grenades intended for loading aboard the UAVs to enable aerial racing-style strikes by Ukraine pilots on Russian targets.

Though the origin of the original FPV drone videos aren’t revealed, the combined file was uploaded by a YouTube user known as Suchominus, who regularly posts informational content on the progress of Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion. If details about the cache of weaponized racing UAVs is correct, Moscow’s troops have more to worry about than hovering craft trying to drop a grenade or two before being detected and shot at.

According to Suchominus’s voice-over, the footage shows about 420 of the 1,000 FPV drones that a specialized Ukraine military intelligence unit called Kryla said it planned to build or buy for kamikaze strikes on Russian targets. In doing so in mid-January, Kryla appealed for backers to donate funds for use in procuring that fleet of single-flight UAVs. 

Read more: Ukraine seeks 1,000 ‘FPV kamikaze drones’ in new funding drive

Suchominus notes that in addition to the 420 FPV drones featured in the footage, 100 more have been prepared for delivery to Ukraine units defending against the renewed Russian offensive – each one purportedly only costing just $200 to build or obtain from third parties. 

Meaning, if that information is accurate, military leaders have managed to raise money and procure over half of the desired fleet of kamikaze UAVs in a mere six weeks, with many more presumably on the way.

As Suchominus reminds viewers, however, while footage from Ukraine’s successfully attacking FPV drones have provided striking evidence of their ruthless efficiency, it’s unknown what percentage of all UAVs deployed in kamikaze strikes hit their Russian targets. Without knowing the rate of per mission objective attainment, overall effectiveness of the method can’t be determined.

ReadUkraine forces strike Russian target with FPV kamikaze drone

Other details about their performance and capabilities, such as speed and range, also remain unclear.

To answer some of those questions, a contributor and FPV racing adept called Sugar_K responded to the footage stating, “I am one of the developers of the firmware these use.” Though there’s no way of verifying that claim, Sugar_K does offer some information on the drones worth considering.

For starters, it’s alleged the FPV drones “would be good for 4-5km, and would be able to maintain speeds of over 150kph once you find your target,” with that range limited more by maximal communication distances rather than the usual concern of battery capacity.

“It’s a one way trip,” Sugar_K writes of the kamikaze missions. “When I fly long range it’s all about the battery life, but in this situation you wouldn’t be worrying about it, frankly, as you don’t have to come home.”

Once launched, Sugar_K contends success of the Ukraine FPV racing drones striking their targets would largely be in the hands of their pilots, and less dependent on Russian defensive actions.

“They are extremely agile and require pilot control from take off to impact,” Sugar_K says. “They would be VERY difficult to intercept unless you were to jam the video or control link… Hard to counter frankly without rf jamming.”

ReadUkraine allies in Belarus reportedly damage Russian AWACS in drone strike

As for other types of drone attacks Ukraine forces have relied on during the year-long war, Sugar_K suggests less specialized UAVs remain more effective.

“(FPVs would) be useless for dropping grenades as you can’t hold them still enough and don’t have a gimballed camera.”

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