Earlier this month, Ukraine launched a campaign to assemble the world’s first “Army of Drones”. It called on the international community to donate money for new drones or to ‘drone’ their own recreational and commercial drones.
That’s because the Ukrainian military has no official drone unit, so globally supplied and funded drones will play a vital role in protecting the country from Russian occupation.
The initiative is made possible by President Zelensky’s global fundraising initiative, UNITED24together with the General Staff of the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Digital Transformation.
How are drones used in warfare?
Drones (also known as unmanned aerial vehicles) have long been part of warfare in many parts of the world.
Small drones enable reconnaissance, detect the location of enemy troops, equipment and ammunition depots, and control close-range fire.
Military drones do the same, but at greater distances, covering larger front-line sections with the capacity to continuously monitor an area for two days while flying at a distance of up to 160 km (nearly 100 miles).
The military can use them to attack targets such as ammunition depots and artillery fire on enemy positions.
Military drones come with numerous thermographic cameras with position sensors. They are also used for signaling, border guarding, and monitoring critical infrastructure such as utility providers.
According to Colonel Oleksii Noskov, Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the drones donated and funded by the campaign will allow the military to constantly monitor the 2,470 km front line.
The first batch of your drones has arrived on the front line. Now they will serve as real soldiers in the world’s first army of drones. Any such ‘dronation’ saves lives and brings Ukraine’s victory closer. Support the light side through @u24_gov_ua. https://t.co/wu9znxbSGN pic.twitter.com/fePQdRfoPn
— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) July 7, 2022
Which drones can I donate?
We spoke to Yuriy Shchygol, head of Ukraine’s state agency for special communications and information protection, who told us that Ukraine is looking for drones for aerial surveillance.
Tactical drones are especially in demand because they are difficult to detect and thus a challenge for the enemy to take down.
These must be equipped with:
- A 5000mAh+ . battery
- A flight range of 1km+
- A 20MP+ . camera
Shchygol noted, “Our defenders will be especially grateful for a drone with a thermographic camera.”
The military also needs thousands of ordinary civilian drones. They can be new or used.
Shchygol stressed that the number of common civilian drones required is huge, running into the thousands: “Every frontline unit needs drones.”
What about electronic espionage?
We asked Shchygol about the security of the critical data captured by drones. He explained that the military is taking steps to prevent sensitive information from falling into unauthorized hands.
All drones are tested in the combat environment before being deployed to avoid the risk of electronic countermeasures (such as hacking, remote disabling or shooting at drones) in Russian Federation occupied territories.
To date, there are no proposals from Chinese suppliers.
What is the impact of the campaign so far?
The campaign’s first day raised more than $2.86 million, growing to $6.8 million in less than two weeks.
About UAH 200 million has been donated for the army of drones! We only launched this project on Friday; and already 2 unmanned systems from Warmate are in the purchasing process for the army. Dozens of your drones have also arrived in the warehouse. Don’t stop thumping: https://t.co/R8ETAZ2pIZ pic.twitter.com/Mayc4OcirT
— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) July 5, 2022
The funding will not only cover the purchase of drones, but also their repair and the cost of training military personnel in their use.
Do you want to donate a drone?
Of course you do! You can send well packed drones to USA or Poland — here are all the details.
People in Estonia can also contribute to the Adopt a drone program. The drones funded include ‘Welcome to Ukraine, Suka’ and ‘Drony McDrone Face’.
the Ukrainian Yellow Blue Foundation is also fundraising for drones to help clear land mines. Remote monitoring allows them to identify explosive landmines to help remove them.