Russia now effectively counters commercial drones used for reconnaissance

11 April, 09:00 PM
Ukrainian soldiers train to fly a drone in Zaporizhzhia region, March 7, 2023 (Photo:REUTERS/Stringer)

Ukrainian soldiers train to fly a drone in Zaporizhzhia region, March 7, 2023 (Photo:REUTERS/Stringer)

The Mavic line of commercial drones produced by Chinese company DJI, used extensively by Ukrainian troops for reconnaissance and artillery fire control, will become obsolete in a matter of months due to Russia’s growing electronic warfare capabilities, The Guardian reported on April 10, quoting Ukrainian drone operators.

Three sources told The Guardian that Russian forces on the ground have learned to counter DJI’s most popular products.

“So actually, I believe like in three, four months, DJI (-made drones) will not be usable,” Ukrainian drone specialist told the newspaper.

Operators said than DJI’s UAVs have their effective ranges dramatically reduced by improving Russian electronic countermeasures (ECM).

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More specifically, a wing of drones near the frontline can now cover only several hundred meters before the UAVs become unresponsive, while just months ago these ranges were 10 to 20 times greater.

“Frankly speaking for me, Mavics are already starting to die,” another Ukrainian drone operator said.

“In December we were able to fly 3km, so we were not working from the zero point (the frontline). Now the guys are saying they cannot fly further than 500 meters.”

He added that such commercial drones will have to be replaced by long-range, expensive UAVs like the Ukrainian-made Leleka-100. Those drones have operational ranges of up to 100 kilometers, and cost around $50,000 – in stark contrast to $2,500-$12,000 for some of DJI’s products.

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