A rare ‘drone war’ was recorded over the skies of Ukraine when a Russian and a Ukrainian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) ‘clashed,’ leading to the supposed ‘downing’ of the former.
Footage from the Russian drone’s front camera shows it is slamming the other from the top, presumably to disable it and owe to the absence of any other aerial weapon.
Interestingly, this is also the second video emerging on the internet since the war began, with the first one from October last year, showing a clearer engagement between two drones. That video, however, went around with conflicting claims of which the disabled drone was and which one was the attacker.
The video shows a recording from an unidentified airborne drone, with its camera reticle on a Chinese DJI drone. The reticle keeps moving around the target drone, meaning the recording drone — type and make unknown — keeps maneuvering around the other.
The video is part of a clip released by RIA Novosti.
The position of the reticule can indicate the position of the recording drone, and at one point, the latter is clearly overhead. The drone then moves close and hits the DJI drone, with an alarm on the former’s camera showing a red mark on the bottom.
This possibly indicates that the drone has sustained an impact.
Footage of an Aerial Clash between a Russian drone and a Ukrainian UAV from Chinese drone maker DJI, reportedly in the Donetsk, Adviivka region.#Russia #DJI #drone #mavic #China #counteroffensive #Chinese #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/CSUSucpwSJ
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) May 4, 2023
The fate of the DJI drone is unknown, and posts on Russian Telegram groups said that the encounter happened at Adveevka near Donetsk. This claim, however, could not be verified.
Last ‘Drone Vs. Drone Clash’
In the previous encounter from October last year, the short sixteen-second clip shows a DJI drone being approached from the front by another airborne UAV.
The DJI drone is then recorded losing control mid-air as it briefly appears before the camera getting inverted and a part of its body splintering off.
This particular video is claimed to be a Ukrainian drone drowning a Russian UAV. But again, owing to the usage of commercially available recreational drones by both countries, which carry no national military markings, and no official word on the engagement, this claim too could not be verified.
Even more puzzling is that the target drones did not seem to be taking evasive maneuvers in both videos and largely stayed in stable hover mode throughout the action.
Both Russia & Ukraine Use Chinese DJI Drones
The EurAsian Times had reported how Russia and Ukraine extensively used the off-the-shelf DJI UAVs for basic tactical battlefield surveillance and artillery fire correction.
Russian-used DJI drones, which had last appeared in a video released by its Ministry of Defense (MoD) in November 2022, featured the intensive training of its newly mobilized soldiers who are taught to use the UAVs.
The video showed the recruits in a field shooting range, and then their instructor introduced them to the DJI drone. The Russian MoD statement said that the soldiers are learning “new military specialties…in addition to small arms and firearms training with elements of tactical shooting.”
“The mobilized servicemen learn piloting techniques and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in conditions as close to combat as possible. UAV operators practice using drones for artillery, tank, and assault units.
“The crews’ task is to conduct surveillance, determine and transmit the coordinates of the enemy for fire and sabotage operations,” the MoD press release said.
Ukraine’s Minister for Science and Technology, Mykhailo Fedorov, too publicized a massive drone procurement effort on March 30. He tweeted a picture of nearly a hundred Mavic 3T drones from Chinese drone maker DJI, mentioning they were meant for the conflict zone.
“300 Mavic 3T already serves in Donbas, Zaporizhzhya, and Kherson. ‘Birds’ have thermal imagers and zoom cameras to detect & destroy Russian hardware,” he said.