Mini-Drones Are a Force Multiplier in Russo-Ukraine War – This is the first known war in which an army has called for mini-drones and private pilots to help with the defensive effort. Ukraine has been the beneficiary of donated small recon remotely-piloted vehicles that keep an eye on the Russians. Finland even crowd-funded over $50,000 to purchase backpack drones for the Ukrainian military and volunteers in the Netherlands are pitching in too to buy mini-drones.
What Is the Mission for These Donated Drones?
These drones have become a force multiplier by not only spying on Russian positions but conducting weapons’ damage assessment. It works like this. Let’s say the Ukrainians have used artillery against a Russian position and they believe it was a successful strike. The mini-drones get sent over to check out the scene. If there are smoking ruins of destroyed Russian tanks and armored vehicles, the drone can send that video back to Ukrainian command and control centers for future targeting data analysis.
How to Win the Information War
It gets even better. The video is quickly uploaded to social media and shared on all the open-source websites that track the war. You’ve probably seen this video on your Twitter feed. This boosts morale and helps Ukraine win the information war against the Russians.
Volunteers Have Answered the Call
But the Ukrainians need as many drones donated as possible and it needs to be done quickly. Enter a Finnish group that listened to the call for help and acted quickly. Henri Lindroos and his friends had an idea. Why not crowdsource donations from Finnish supporters of Ukraine? Their ensuing online efforts raised $57,000. Next, they wanted to pick out a rucksack drone under 250-grams to better provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to small Ukrainian units on the front lines.
Rucksack Drones Fit the Bill
They decided to buy 140 DJI Mavic Mini2 drones. The portable and foldable Mavic Mini2 can fly up to 31-minutes and can transmit ultra-clear 4K video from six miles away. It is even wind-resistant.
Lindroos and his group even charged the drones and bought extra batteries and chargers. Then they packed their bags and flew to Poland to hand over the mini-UAVs and supplies personally to Ukrainian military representatives. Lindroos says there are more drones on the way.
Other Groups Are Acting Too
This is not the first time the DJI Mavic Mini2 drones were gifted to the Ukrainians. A group from the Netherlands also got together to form a volunteer program for donating the DJI Mavics. “Eyes on Ukraine” raised enough money from Dutch activists that they bought 209 of the Mavic mini-drones. Eyes on Ukraine has a more humanitarian mission. They want the Ukrainians to use the mini-drones to document war crimes allegations against the Russians, especially cluster bomb usage by Vladimir Putin’s forces.
“If people are able to film on the spot with drones, we can all see what is happening. As a result, it will become much more difficult [for Russia] to deny attacks on civilian targets or the use of cluster bombs,” the group said.
Volunteer Work Puts Pressure on the Russians
Russia has clearly underestimated what volunteers around the world will do to help the Ukrainian war effort. These volunteers have come up with innovative plans to help with recon and the documentation of war crimes carried out by the Russians. Expect more of this type of innovative activism by volunteers in Europe. Both groups say they are going to continue to raise money and buy mini-drones for the Ukrainians. These mini-UAVs are definitely a force multiplier for the defenders.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.