Home NewsAfrica Inside the elite Ukrainian drone unit founded by volunteer IT experts: ‘We are all soldiers now.’ | Businessinsider

Inside the elite Ukrainian drone unit founded by volunteer IT experts: ‘We are all soldiers now.’ | Businessinsider

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Aerorozvidka’s R-18 drone (L), destroyed Russian tank (R).

Aerorozvidka (L), Anatolii Stepanov / AFP through Getty Pictures (R)

  • Aerorozvidka is an elite Ukrainian drone unit based by volunteer IT consultants.
  • The unit custom-builds or modifies off-the-shelf shopper drones to bomb Russian tanks and armour.
  • The unit is a key a part of the Ukrainian resistance in opposition to invading Russian forces.
  • For extra tales, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

An elite Ukrainian drone unit based by volunteer IT consultants is turning into an important a part of the resistance in opposition to invading Russian forces.

Aerorozvidka custom-builds or modifies off-the-shelf shopper drones to work in a navy context and drop bombs on Russian automobiles underneath the quilt of evening.

“Now, we’re all troopers, however our roots are very totally different,” Mykhailo, a board member and head of communications for Aerorozvidka, informed Insider.

“A few of us have PhDs. Some have masters. Some are from the IT trade and lots of different industries. The principle factor which unites us is a want to win this warfare.”

The unit was based in 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russian-backed teams launching a separatist insurgency within the Donbas area.

Tech-savvy volunteers got here collectively to design machines for drone-based aerial reconnaissance to help the Ukrainian military.

Aerorozvidka’s founder, an funding banker, and father of 4, Volodymyr Kochetkov-Sukach, was killed in action in Donbas in 2015.

“The invasion started not months in the past. It started in 2014,” Mykhailo stated.

Aerorozvidka now operates as a non-governmental organisation that carefully helps Ukraine’s navy.

The unit makes use of a spread of drones, a lot of that are generally obtainable store-bought drones that they modify and militarise, together with Chinese language DJI drones and Autel drones, French Parrot drones, and extra.

Its most prized drone is the octocopter R-18, which they construct from scratch. It has a spread of 4km, a 40 minute flight time, and may drop 5kg bombs.

Aerorozvidka’s custom-built R-18 octocopter drone.


Every R-18 prices $20,000 to construct, making them less expensive than anti-tank missiles equivalent to NLAWs, or New era Mild Anti-tank Weapons, costing $40,000 per unit.

Not like NLAWs, that are single-use, the R-18s may also be used repeatedly– except they undergo injury by Russian hearth.

The group has drones flying 20 hours of the day on reconnaissance or fight missions, Mykhailo stated.

Aerorozvidka is split into the drone group, the Delta group, and a cybersecurity group. 

Delta is a NATO-supported web-based scenario consciousness system that creates a map of Russian targets utilizing data from varied sources, together with brokers on land and reconnaissance knowledge from the drone group.

The unit additionally makes use of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite tv for pc system, which helps guarantee connectivity even when there are web or energy outages.

Aerorozvidka tools.


The unit carries out round 300 reconnaissance missions day by day and has destroyed “dozens, possibly hundreds” of Russian automobiles, Mykhailo stated.

Aerorozvidka usually carries out missions underneath cowl of evening as a result of their drones’ thermal imaging cameras give them a bonus. Outfitted with night-vision goggles and sniper rifles, the drone troopers would use quad bikes to move stealthily through the forests and get in place to assault the Russian forces.

Its most vital victory was serving to to halt the 40-mile Russian convoy heading to assault the capital Kyiv.

‘ I believe it is logical to say they’re adapting. However they’re nonetheless Russians’

The unit usually targets probably the most useful car in a convoy to make the best use of their restricted bombs.

On this case, the group focused automobiles on the head of the convoy, which succeeded in blocking the convoy and demoralising Russian forces.

Presently, Aerorozvidka primarily operates within the Kyiv area however is increasing operations throughout Ukraine, with an anticipated renewed Russian offensive within the east and south of the nation.

Mykhailo stated that he couldn’t disclose precisely how many individuals are a part of the organisation, however that there are “dozens.” 

The unit usually shares movies of their missions on social media, sometimes set to the backdrop of music by Ukrainian rap artist Skofka.


A big problem going through Aerorozvidka is funding and provide points. It depends upon crowdfunding and donations to pay money for much-needed parts equivalent to superior modems and thermal imaging cameras. 

Many US and Canada-made components are topic to export controls prohibiting them from being despatched to Ukraine. Russian forces are slowly adapting and figuring out how one can shoot down Aerorozvidka’s drones, making the necessity for additional components and funding essential.

Regardless of the rise in counter-attacks, Aerorozvidka is assured that the unit can have continued success tormenting the Russian invaders.

“I believe it is logical to say they’re adapting. However they’re nonetheless Russians,” Mykhailo stated.

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