In the dense forests of northern Ukraine, where visibility is limited, U.S. Marine veteran Dakota Mendenhall and two other foreign special forces fighters found a significant tactical advantage: Drone Technology.
After embedding with Ukrainian troops, the group recently participated in a weeklong intensive drone training program in Washington's Methow Valley, focusing on stealthy drone skills crucial for the Ukrainian battlefield.
Methow Valley provides ideal drone training ground
The Methow Valley provided an ideal training ground, with its orchards and snowy slopes explained Norwegian special forces medic Sandra Eira. She has fought alongside Ukrainian troops since the war began in February 2022.
Eira and her fellow fighters operate under the Ukrainian armed forces' command rather than the International Legion. Drone surveillance has become a matter of life and death as the war shifted to more drone and artillery-based tactics, making it crucial for the fighters to adapt.
Russian forces have increasingly used drone warfare, and Russian forces were able to track DJI drones donated to Ukrainian troops, resulting in their consistent destruction. Now, fighters are seeking donations of Autel Robotics drones, which are more difficult to track and shoot down.
They practiced stealth maneuvers, thermal sensor switching, takeoff and landing, and flying around obstacles like trees and buildings. This training also involved tracking deer in the area.
Mendenhall appreciated the training, gaining knowledge about drone mechanics, and understanding how drones sound in different conditions. He successfully completed a challenging landing task set by J., who plans to continue training fighters as needed.
Eira, who remains committed to the fight in Ukraine, believes that the drone skills learned in the Methow Valley will be a game-changer on the battlefield. The drones, she said, serve as their eyes and provide vital intelligence.
Photos courtesy of Northwest News Network.
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