ERR in Donetsk: Ukrainian drone crew the eye in the sky
Fierce fighting continues in the suburbs of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, ERR reports.
Correspondents Anton Aleksejev and Kristjan Svirgsden have been delivering regular reports from the front in Donbas, most recently focusing on the artillery war.
Ukrainian artillery is directed via the use of state-of-the-art drones, produced in Ukraine and called Furia.
Furia (pictured) can stay airborne for longer periods of time than most commercially produced drones, in fact for up to 90 minutes, enough time for around half the area of the city to be surveyed.
Roman, a Ukrainian officer, said "Fighting is going on there all the time. We look at Bakhmut from different directions, and from inside the city as well."
The drone operations team consists of three personnel, effectively the eyes and ears of the artillery.
Another officer, Oleg, said: "The pilot is responsible for the drone's physical movement, altitude and speed. I search for the enemy and their tech, with the view of then neutralizing it," adding that he provides any corrections needed to artillery on the ground.
On Wednesday, the team flew over a residential district of Bakhmut. "We examined a specific sector and identified some unit tech. There was no actual activity, only technical and infantry concentration points," Roman said.
Apparently, Russian artillery soldiers thought throwing old blankets over their gun barrels would suffice by way of concealment, though not only did this prove wanting once the drones were on the scene, even the burgeoning foliage as summer arrives could not help the Russians.
The drone flies at an altitude of at least 700m, while its main threat is not enemy fire, but rather anti-drone devices and deterrents.
"If the enemy uses distraction, then we may lose communication with satellites, image transmission and control. Many functions depend on comms. If anti-drone devices are deployed effectively, we can even lose the drone altogether," Igor, another officer, told ERR.
Roman added that: "This particular drone hasn't been shot down yet, but we have lost some of the 'birds'. That sometimes happens, and is not an insurmountable loss. If a 'bird' helps to knock out at least one tank, it has already served its purpose."
In fact, while Aleksejev and Svirgsden were filming, the drone returned, not only intact, but having helped to neutralize two targets – a development which certainly boosted morale.
The original AK slot (in Estonian, Ukrainian and Russian) is here.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'