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NewsCheap but efficient drones going mainstream in the Ukrainian Army

Cheap but efficient drones going mainstream in the Ukrainian Army

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Ukrainian engineers are learning to make the maximum use of simple and cheap drones. They not only construct their flying machines, but also develop specialized munitions and adapt novel attack methods.

Drone and its projectile release mechanisms constructed by the “Steel Hornets”. Image credit: Steel Hornets

The tactics used by the Armed Forces of Ukraine are usually based on drones that drop munitions while flying over the positions of the enemy. Such unmanned flyers are often made by volunteer communities using non-military grade parts.

There are only two main technical requirements: the drone must have the ability to be controlled remotely with a visual feedback, and it must be capable of carrying an explosive charge.

One such community named “Steel Hornets” which manufactures drones for Ukrainian soldiers and also constructs ammunition release systems and even optimized the construction of munitions for this purpose, recently demonstrated how they tested their new the testing of its new development – shrapnel ammunition.

Shrapnel ammunition for drones made by Ukrainian volunteer organization "Steel Hornets"

Shrapnel ammunition for drones made by the Ukrainian volunteer organization “Steel Hornets”

Each shrapnel charge weighs 800 grams (around 1.8 lb) and has a diameter of 63 mm. It uses a mechanical fuse.

Generally, shrapnel explosives are packed with metal balls with a diameter of several millimeters that are scattered in the proximity of the detonation. Modern versions may contain sharp pieces of metal sometimes shaped as small arrows to increase their flight distance.

But it is not only ammunition that plays an important role on the battlefield. Ukrainian drone pilots are using a ‘diving’ technique to increase the efficiency of their strikes.

In his method, the carried drone flies along the charge release trajectory in order to increase the initial projectile velocity right after it is released from the drop mechanism. This also allows performing hits from a lower altitude, thereby increasing the accuracy and simplifying the aiming process.

Is it possible to recover the drone?

Yes, the drone does not hit the ground but is able to change its trajectory right after the drop. As Defense Express notes, the drone essentially turns into a miniature combat aircraft that is able to repeat maneuvres similar to those used in large airplanes.

The process could be simplified even further by programming an automated drone return function to optimize its recovery after it performed its mission.

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