According to the Ukrainian drone force Aerorozvidka, 30 special forces on quad bikes with night-vision goggles and drones halted a 40-mile Russian convoy that was on its way to Kyiv to stage an overwhelming attack on the nation’s capital from the north.
Lt. Col. Yaroslav Honchar, the commander of Aerorozvidka, said that the Russian assault was thwarted in part due to a series of nighttime ambushes by small teams of Ukrainian special forces and drone operators on quad bikes.
Aerorozvidka, which began as a group of volunteer IT professionals and amateurs creating their own drones, has grown to be a crucial part of Ukraine’s successful resistance.
However, the Ukrainian drone unit has to rely on fundraising and a network of personal connections to get access to drones, batteries, and export-restricted thermal cameras to keep operating.
Small teams with drones halted convoy
The Ukrainians on quads then maneuvered through the woods on either side of the road leading south to Kyiv from Chernobyl in order to approach the Russian force at night.
The small teams were armed with night vision goggles, sniper rifles, remotely detonated mines, drones with thermal cameras, and have the capability to drop 3-pound explosives.
“This one little unit in the night destroyed two or three vehicles at the head of this convoy, and after that it was stuck. They stayed there two more nights, and [destroyed] many vehicles,” Honchar said.
The Russians broke up the convoy into smaller groups in order to try to advance on Kyiv, but the same assault teams were able to strike at its supply depot, halting the army’s ability to move forward.
“The first echelon of the Russian force was stuck without heat, without oil, without bombs, and without gas. And it all happened because of the work of 30 people,” Honchar said.
On the first day of the war, according to one account, Aerorozvidka used drones to find, target, and shell 200 Russian paratroopers concealed at one end of the airfield, reportedly helping repel a Russian airborne attack on Hostomel Airport.
“That contributed largely to the fact that they could not use this airfield for further development of their attack,” said Lt Taras from Aerorozvidka.
Aerorozvidka designed its own drones
Aerorozvidka began by using commercial surveillance drones, but its team of engineers, software designers, and drone enthusiasts subsequently created their own designs.
They developed a variety of drones for surveillance, as well as huge eight-rotor machines able to drop bombs and rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades.
The Ukrainian drone unit developed Delta, a network of sensors along the front lines that connected to a digital map so commanders could view enemy movements as they happened.
Aerorozvidka has now switched to using Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite system, which provides real-time data to Ukrainian artillery units, enabling them to strike Russian targets.
Ukraine’s guerilla-style of warfare is highly dependent on the ability to maintain an aerial view of Russian movements. However, Aerorozvidka’s attempts to expand and replace lost equipment have been impeded by a lack of drones, batteries, and spare components.
Aerorozvidka is dependent on crowdfunding and asking a global network of friends and supporters to find thermal drones and spare parts on eBay or other websites.
“I know there are people who want to help them fight, people who want to do a bit more than the humanitarian aid,” Marina. Borozna who works with the drone unit said. “If you want to address the root cause of this human suffering, you’ve got to defeat the Russian invasion. Aerorozvidka makes a huge difference and they need our support.”
Borozna’s partner, Klaus Hentrich is also helping to source the desperately needed items.
“I was in an artillery reconnaissance unit myself, so I immediately realized the outsized impact that Aerorozvidka has. They effectively give eyes to their artillery,” Hentrich said. “Where we can make a difference is to rally international support, be it financial contributions, help to get harder-to-find technical components or donations of common civilian drones.”
Commander Honchar explains that Aerorozvidka’s way of fighting with small teams, drones, online communication, and an intelligence system is the future of warfare and has allowed them to defeat a much larger and stronger enemy.
“We are like a hive of bees,” he said. “One bee is nothing, but if you are faced with a thousand, it can defeat a big force. We are like bees, but we work at night.”
On Facebook. Aerorozvidka said that:
“We receive hundreds of supportive messages and monetary donations from around the world.
This gives us encouragement for further struggle! Thank you!”
Here’s how you can help or see below:
Get your Part 107 Certificate
Pass the test and take to the skies with the Pilot Institute. We have helped thousands of people become airplane and commercial drone pilots. Our courses are designed by industry experts to help you pass FAA tests and achieve your dreams.
FTC: DroneXL.co uses affiliate links that generate income.* We do not sell, share, rent out or spam your email, ever. Our email goes out on weekdays around 5:30 p.m.