A video released by Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense shows a Ukrainian soldier taking apart a Russian military drone, called the Orlan-10. The surveillance aircraft features a low-end Canon camera, duct tape, and a bottle top for a fuel cap.
The 2-minute video was produced by Ukraine’s defense ministry’s information agency, ArmyInform. It shows a soldier sitting next to what is claimed to be a Russian Orlan-10 UAV that has crashed in Ukraine.
The soldier expresses his surprise at how low-tech the military drone appears. Certain features of the Orlan-10 are more like a do-it-yourself RC plane than a high-tech piece of military espionage equipment.
Low-end Canon camera in Russian Orlan-10 drone
The soldier discovered that the camera used for photography was a Canon EOS Rebel T6i, a low-end DSLR camera released in 2015 with a retail price of $750, but that you can pick up on eBay for a few hundred dollars.
The camera is secured to a board with a simple Velcro fastener strip, and the mode dial has been glued tight to prevent the shooting mode from being changed mid-flight.
The cap on the fuel tank, which is located on the top of the drone, appears to be a bottle top. Various other components of the Russian surveillance drone are joined together with some form of duct tape.
Translation of the Orlan-10 video
0:01 … We’ve gathered a number of downed Russian drones for study. We wanted to share examples of the “space age” engineering with our Western partners, but as soon as we’ve sent a couple of photos they went into a system shock. “Are you f-n kidding us?” they said. “This could not possibly be modern army technology. Dig through this garbage yourselves.”
And here we are…
0:20 Let’s take a look at the “Orlan-10” drone and check out some of those “super up to date” technical solutions, held together by the notorious “spiritual bonds” so dear to every Russian soul. (cynical)
0:30 Perhaps we’ll be able to spy on some technological tricks we can later teach in our middle-school hobby workshops. (cynical)
0:44 Let’s begin. This is drone’s camera unit. The front plate proudly states, “Made in Russia.” But in the back is a “Cannon” camera … fastened with Velcro!
1:00 The best feature — you can unfasten the “Cannon” and use it to take selfies.
1:08 The camera (being Japanese) is in perfect working order (even after downing of the drone).
1:10 Take a look, Russians engineers have super-glued the mode-dial, so the camera does not accidentally turn off in flight. The zoom is also fixed. The bottom two lenses are thermal-vision modules.
1:24 There’s a plethora of other curious technical solutions which I shall not waste your time on, because I want to show you the most important part — the notorious “spiritual bond” no modern Russian technology exists without …
1:38 … THE BOTTLE !
1:41 I am not pulling your leg, and this is not a fake. This here says, “Fuel tank,” and here “Ignition”. And this is a plastic screw cap and a common soda bottle, riveted in here.
2:05 In short, “Without a bottle the Russia can’t be Russia.”Courtesy of Aλλεν Κέρρy
High-en price tage for low-tech Orlan-10 drone
The Orlan-10 costs between $87,000 and $120,000 per unit, according to a report from the Ukrainian news agency UNIAN.
“The Orlan-10 is developed by Russian-based Special Technological Center Ltd.” UNIAN wrote reports PetaPixel. “The hull and the engine are made in Russia, its electronic components come from Taiwan.
“Russia often uses this model in Donbas for reconnaissance and adjustment of artillery fire.”
It now appears that at least some of the drone’s electronic components are from Japan, too.
In March, Canon Europe announced that it was halting fresh product deliveries to Russia as a result of the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
This thread on Twitter goes into even more detail of the components used to build the Orlan-10 drone.
What do you think of this Russian Orlan-10 drone? It seems that a simple DJI drone could do a better job perhaps? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Image credits: Video and still frames by the Ukraine Ministry of Defense
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