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Initiatives reflect Ukraine’s growing reliance on potent FPV drones

by nytime
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Events this week in Ukraine have demonstrated the nation’s increasing commitment to small, quasi-consumer-grade first-person view drones (FPV) as vital assets in the nation’s battle to defeat invading Russian forces.

Though Ukraine’s building, adaptation, and effective deployment of many kinds of consumer, enterprise, and military-designed UAVs have been well documented, recent developments indicate just how important the focus on relatively inexpensive FPV deployment has become. 

Read: Ukraine flexes drone muscle as counteroffensive accelerates

Adjacent to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urging the urgency of drone production to the country’s defense, a new campaign was launched to collect funds for 10,000 new FPV vehicles and onboard munitions.

That latter development came with the Ukraine’s Come Back Alive charitable foundation joining UNITED25 to solicit UAH230 million ($6.1 million) in financing buy 10,000 FPV drones and munitions. 

Read: Ukraine’s $540 million drone budget highlights UAVs’ critical role in defense efforts

While similar past fundraising has been very successful in building what has become Ukraine’s remarkably potent Army of Drones, the new push for exclusively first-person piloted craft is a measure of how frequently – and effectively – they’re now being deployed.

“The importance of easy-to-use and inexpensive kamikaze drones is hard to underestimate,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister for Innovation, Development of Education, Science and Technologies in announcing the drive.

Further proof of how powerful and increasingly deployed FPV drones have become for Ukraine defenders arose in a new video featuring one of the craft atomizing a Russian T-90 tank. The footage also featured aspects that lovers of schadenfreude will appreciate, with the war machine being destroyed by the swooping UAV as it sat stuck on the face of steep incline after its driver apparently accidentally backed it over the edge of a cliff.

Were further evidence of Ukraine’s growing reliance on FPV drones needed, that  came with officials revealing three of the nation’s state-owned companies that produced UAVs have begun shifting their sites toward first-person vehicle manufacturing.

Yaroslav Oliynyk, an advisor to Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries, said that re-tailoring toward FPV drone production aimed to fulfill two previously stated objectives. 

The first is to provide the nation’s fighting forces with all the aerial assets they need to push Russian invaders out of the country. The second is to – whenever possible – encourage self-reliance and local production of needed UAVs as a means of feeding the nation’s war-shattered economy.

Read: Start-up One Way Aerospace exits stealth with details on its FPV drone production for Ukraine

In a video address on Monday, Zelenskyy situated the new emphasis on FPV drone construction and procurement within the wider context of Ukraine’s defense priorities.

“Drones are consumables, and there should be as many of them as needed – as our warriors need – to save lives and ensure results in battle,” he said. “Obviously, the Ukrainian production of drones… must grow, and this is one of the most important tasks.”

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