The War with Russia: The Crucial Work of Drone Enthusiasts in Eastern Ukraine

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At a training camp near Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, among soldiers laden with equipment and heavy weapons, a man crosses the place with a light step. Oleksander, in glasses and a camouflage cap, carries only a black bag.

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“My gun is much more discreet,” he says with a smile. “In here are the eyes of the army.”

Thirty-year-old soldier he is in command of an air reinforcement unit for the 5th Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

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Your mission: drone pilot in the Bakhmut areaepicenter of fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces, and where the longest and bloodiest battle of the war is being fought.

a crucial task

When not on missions, Oleksander trains or repairs gadgets.

Oleksander, 30, operates a drone in Bakhmut.  photo by AFP

Oleksander, 30, operates a drone in Bakhmut. photo by AFP

“We carry out reconnaissance and at the same time surveillance, we identify the enemy and we can escort the assault groups,” he explains.

Drones have become crucial, to the point that on days with poor visibility, artillery pieces do not go out so as not to waste ammunition.

“Before, to adjust a mortar round, you needed a surveyor on the hill, with a tripod and binoculars (…) He had to give the gunner the correction angles. Now, with a drone, the person directing the shot adjusts it in real time.”military details.

These techniques are also used by the Russian side. So Ukrainian drone specialists are also on a mission to shoot down Russian drones.

For this Victor use a suitcase with an interceptor.

He shows the screen and laughs: “Look, we see them all! The Mavic and the others! All the drones!”

His satisfaction is even greater because the device he uses is a “gift of the Russians”.

It’s “spoils of war”!, he exclaims. “In Ukraine we don’t make such cars, we steal them from the enemy.”

Oleksander explains that in these drone units you have to be very resourceful.


“It’s a constant job, the operator must know everything. How to maximize the range of his device,” says the officer. photo by AFP

“It’s consistent work. the operator must know everything. How to maximize the range of your device, how to create a take-off point in difficult terrain, dig your trench, hide your presence…” lists the officer.

And you have to be “skillful,” she adds.


Ukrainian army drones are usually commercial models. First you need to modify the program to make them Russian “invisible to radio surveillance”Oleksander reports, as he shows off his approximately 20-centimeter device.

These artifacts are also modified so that they can throw grenades or other explosives.

Although they now master the technique to get it, they had to do a lot of testing in the beginning.

Oleksander remembers the first time he did it. Three months after using a drone remote control for the first time, managed to destroy one MT-12 Rapira anti-tank gun throw a grenade

There are also many leaks. According to the military, about a hundred drones disappeared on the battlefield.

In his view, the use of drones has helped Bakhmut continue to resist.

“The attacks by (Russian paramilitary group) Wagner against Bakhmut were mostly repulsed thanks to drones that launch grenadesOleksander says, looking at the front line, where outnumbered Ukrainian forces are holding up against Russian attacks.

“It’s a bit of a geek’s revenge,” he says, alluding to the technicians.

Source: Clarin

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