Russia ‘Evades’ Ukraine’s Electronic Warfare & Jamming Attacks Using Fiber Optic Cables In FPV UAVs

Russian First-Person View (FPV) drones are using fiber optic cables to connect the aircraft and the operator for more resilient and responsive electrical connections that can also beat electronic warfare (EW). This was revealed by Ukrainian soldiers who captured one on the frontline. 

The quadcopter UAV had a 10-kilometer fiber optic cable spool that rolled out and remained linked to the ground controller, effectively preventing electromagnetic emission and remaining immune to EW. The electrical components appear to be commercially available leisure drone devices bought off-the-shelf.

The technique of using fiber optic cable appears to be a natural evolution of the drone war where both Russia and Ukraine have inventively employed new technologies and tactics in using cheap ad-hoc loitering munitions and their detection.

Ukraine is now solely relying on kamikaze UAVs as substitutes for artillery owing to the destruction of a majority of its inventory and the shortage of shells in Western armories and defense industries to meet Kyiv’s needs.

Drone With Wire Spool

post on X (formerly Twitter) showed the simple quadcopter drone with a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) round strapped to the bottom and a battery tied to its top. However, beside it is a cylindrical spool with a fiber optic cable and a small camera in the middle of the circular hollow section.

It is not clear if the spool was attached to the drone while it flew or was with the ground controller. The conditions under which the drone was captured are also unknown: whether it was shot down or found abandoned on the ground. Additionally, a spherical plastic cover is also seen, but its purpose is unclear.

The handle ‘OSINT (Uri)’ said: “The Russians have started using killer (and I assume reconnaissance) drones with fiber optic cables attached to them: For greater efficiency, Russia launches FPV drones with a coil of thin fiber optic cable attached to them.”

The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) “captured” one of these drones with “10 kilometers of cable unrolled in the air. Such a drone is not vulnerable to EW and the picture from it can be transmitted in the highest quality. This sample is being studied… and probably we too will be able to equip our drones in the same way as the enemy,” the post said.

Another set of pictures in the thread claimed the “transceiver” connected to the camera was of “Chinese” origin. A screen grab of its availability on the e-commerce site AliExpress identified it as ‘1X9-BIDI-N’ for $5.64. The picture is said to have been first shared by Serhii Flesh (or Serhy), a Ukrainian serviceman who has often been cited as an expert in “radio technologies.”

Wire-Guided ATGMs 

Interestingly, wire-guided missiles are not uncommon, with the American TOW anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) being such a leading platform. Operational since the 1970s, the Tube-Launched Optically-Tracked Wire-Guided (TOW) is guided by a pair of copper wires. These spool out of the missile as it leaves the tube, with the range of the missile being limited by the length of the wires (3.8 km).

The wires protect the missile from electronic countermeasures, unlike earlier ATGMs that carried a radio link. The wires, however, only carry the control signal from the missile and require the operator to remain in place until the strike, making him vulnerable to detection.

The introduction of fiber optics allowed the transmission of a video feed from the camera back to the operator, allowing him to see the target from the missile’s point of view.

The Russian drone appears to be a product of one of the many self-funded volunteer efforts led by academia, universities, citizens, and the country’s private drone and technology sector that is meeting many of the urgently needed military UAV needs.


The drone also suggests that the Russians have already refined the design and are preparing to commence mass production, even if in a small batch for trials. Another possibility could be that the Russians are only testing the system before deciding on regular acquisition.

The configuration, however, has its share of drawbacks, chief of them being the limited range owing to the 10 km length of the fiber optic spool. Second, the UAV also runs the risk of getting entangled in obstacles on the field in flight, restricting its use in only certain terrain and tactical situations.

It is also not known if the UAV has a fail-safe remote control if the wire snaps for any reason. But given the obvious risk of such an arrangement, the Russians might have incorporated such an option as a fallback. This, however, remains broadly in the realm of speculation until more information is available.