Army technology writer and fan Chris Owen retold the story of Ukrainians attacking their enemies with cheap civilian drones. There is more and more talk about their involvement, but this is the first more comprehensively described procedure. The materials come from @ian_matveev.
In the first tweet, see what such a drone attack might look like. Translation: Many have already seen a video of a Ukrainian drone dropping a small bomb through the sunroof (!) Of a car driven by Russian soldiers. This is a short thread explaining how they did it.
The attack used a modified VOG-17 grenade with added front and rear, which were made on a 3D printer. VOG-17 is a fragmentation grenade from the Soviet era measuring 30 × 120 mm, its effective radius is 7 meters (ie 150 m²).
The VOG-17 grenade weighs about 350 grams, so it can be easily carried by a hobby drone like DJI Phantom 3. Two grenades were used in the described attack, so either a larger model carried them, or two drones flew at the same time, or one drone twice in a row .
Modifications to the grenade are simple, but as the video shows, they give it good aerodynamics and high accuracy. This is the video that was probably the most popular on the Internet at the end of April.
The VOG-17 grenade itself contains only 36 grams of explosives and cannot seriously damage the equipment. But there is a lot of this ammunition in Ukraine. It is usually fired from an automatic grenade launcher AG-17 (Soviet equivalent of the American Mk 19).
Cheap hobby-drones equipped with modified small grenades are a simple and effective weapon against individual soldiers. To some extent, they have already been used by factions in Syria and Iraq, but only in Ukraine are they becoming a widely used weapon.
But how do you destroy an armored vehicle with a drone from the store? Ukrainians seem to use several different procedures. One of the most effective is the modified RKG-3, an old type of anti-tank grenade from the Soviet era (1950).
This is what the RKG-1600 looks like in the suspension of an “attack” drone.
In 2020, a Kiev small arms manufacturer demonstrated how to turn an RKG-3 grenade into a drone bomb using ailerons printed on a 3D printer. Then it is called RKG-1600. The bomb weighs about a kilogram, so it must be carried by a larger drone.
It is necessary to emphasize how effective these modified anti-tank grenades (RKG-1600) are. The latest models of the RKG-3 base grenade can penetrate 220 mm of homogeneous rolled armor. That’s more than enough to neutralize the tank.
During the tests, the pilots of these drones were able to hit a target the size of one meter from a height of 300 meters. At this height, the drone is virtually invisible and inaudible.
Another tactic seems to be dropping mortar ammunition. This is a very simple and inexpensive solution, especially against lightly armored vehicles such as the Russian BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles. Their upper armor is only about 10 mm thick.
The drone and mortar attack on the BMP-3 combat vehicle is captured in this video:
The cost-effectiveness of such a solution is exceptional. The octocopter costs maybe $ 10,000, the Phantom 3 only $ 500, and the modified RKG-1600 is likely to be purchased for less than $ 100. At the same time, each BMP-3 combat vehicle costs the Russian army $ 796 thousand. Add to that the loss of the crew.
You can bet that military strategists will follow this activity of the defenders with great interest. Drones are now able to effectively fire soldiers and equipment with great precision. They often remain undiscovered at any time of the day or night and in most climatic conditions.
Even if you are camouflaged, bivouaced, or behind the front lines, a drone armed with a small bomb can be directly above you at any time. Drone pilots are the new snipers of the 21st century. And just as afraid.
At the end of April, DJI was the first Chinese company to announce that it was withdrawing not only from the Russian but also from the Ukrainian market. The decision was seen as controversial, “because Ukrainians use drones to defend themselves against aggressors.” April 28 update):