Medical supplies, outdoor gear, camo, sleeping bags and now — drones.
These items have reached the battlefields in the east as new images on social media show Ukrainian soldiers holding the unmanned aircraft.
While the drones are far from military grade and are more akin to ones hobbyists could easily purchase in the United States, they can fly hundreds of feet in the air and beam back video to tablets and smartphones on the ground.
But unlike military grade equipment, these commercial drones will likely be subject to jamming from adversaries.
And that’s why the organization managing these supplies — the “Chicago Automaidan”— is looking to beef up its drone game by building its own unmanned aircraft with expert help, Chicago Automaidan members tell Military Times. The members asked not to be identified.
While the Phantom 2 vision plus drones are helpful for checkpoints, the Automaidan group wants to significantly extend the range for reconnaissance and surveillance.
The group plans to use antennas on the new drones that would play into frequencies which aren’t as openly available to jamming signals, members said.
The Phantom 2 drones are also limited by their size, not even spanning a foot. The new drones Automaidan is building will have a wingspan and body dimension of roughly three feet.
Phantom 2s run roughly $1,300; the Automaidan drones’ value is quadruple the price, members said, but because of in-house labor, the group maintains they can develop the drones for roughly $2,000 a piece.
The group plans to send its first drone next week so that fighters in eastern Ukraine can test its flight, and coordinate with programs that can sync the drones with air artillery maps, members said.
So far the gestures, big or small, are greatly appreciated.
“Members of the military unit 3002 Ukraine Lviv National Guard would like to thank Chicago Automaidan” for all this equipment which has been sent out east, wrote in Ukrainian one senior technician from the guard group. “We are very grateful to Ukrainians from around the world who are doing everything for our victory.”