Special Operations: Russians Hunt Ukrainian UAV Operators


May 17, 2024: In Ukraine the Russian military sees Ukrainian UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), or drone, tactics as a major cause of Russian casualties. The UAVs not only attack targets but also find targets, even ones that are carefully hidden in wooded areas, underground or with camouflage nets. Russia believes that these UAVs have a weakness that can be exploited; the UAV operators must be within several kilometers of where these large quad-copter types are, using FPV (First Person View) headsets to guide the UAVs in the search for targets, so that another UAV can attack the target, or more frequently, drop an explosive on the target. After an attack the UAVs return to an area near their operators where the UAVs can receive fully charged batteries and more explosives to be dropped. The Ukrainian UAVs operate in pairs, with a smaller UAV finding a target and a larger UAV dropping the explosive device which has an effect similar to that of an 82mm or 120mm mortar shell depending on how much weight the UAV can carry.

Since the Ukrainian UAVs operate on batteries, they are very quiet and usually operate at night, using night-vision video cameras to seek out targets. The Russians also use heat sensing night vision video cameras around positions they want to defend to detect the incoming Ukrainian UAVs, and then try to track the electronic signals coming from the Ukrainian operators to the UAVs so the UAV operators can be located and attacked by Russian UAVs or with artillery/mortar fire. Armed UAVs cause more casualties in Ukraine than mortar, artillery, or missile attacks. The main reason for this is the accuracy of UAV attacks and that is because of the FPV UAV operators locating targets that are promptly attacked before they can move to another location. This is why Russia is seeking to develop ways to find and kill the UAV operators.

Ukrainian UAV operators know they are targets for Russian attacks and move around a lot because to stay in one location two long means increased vulnerability to being found and attacked. This is similar to sniper tactics, where the sniper team (a shooter and a spotter) find several locations to shoot from and then slither away from one position to another to avoid detection and attack.

Snipers are still used but they operate from ground level or from inside a multistory building. The UAVs can pop up to an altitude of several hundred meters to spot a target then dive down to ground level to avoid detection and attack. UAVs have advantages over snipers that make them more flexible and lethal.


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