Is Russia Using Makeshift Drones? – A video released by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense shows a Ukrainian soldier taking apart a captured Russian military drone and discovering makeshift parts inside.
The video, which was shared on Twitter on Sunday, shows the soldier pulling a consumer-grade DSLR camera made by Canon from the Orlan-10 drone, and a bottle cap used as a fuel tank lid.
The drone also appears to have been repaired and put back together using duct tape. It suggests that as Russia scrambles to replenish its ammunition and weapons, the nation’s military may be resorting to using any materials available to continue military and surveillance operations in Ukraine.
“This is seriously real, not fake,” the soldier says in the clip. “We even thought of sending this ‘cosmic’ technology to our Western partners.”
A version of the video with English subtitles was made available here.
What is the Orlan-10 Drone?
The Orlan-10 drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufactured and developed for the Russian Armed Forces by the Saint Petersburg-based Special Technology Center.
Priced at between $87,000 and $120,000 per device, the drone is designed for use in reconnaissance.
Often, the drones are flown in threes, though five drones may be used at one time.
When flown in threes, one drone is typically responsible for reconnaissance from a height of up to 1.5km, the second for electronic warfare, and the third acts as a transponder that transmits intelligence to a control center.
Orlan-10 drones have been used extensively during the invasion of Ukraine and were also used in the 2014 conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
It is unclear whether the Canon EOS 750D DSLR camera found in the Orlan-10 drone is a standard feature of the device, or whether the camera was inserted into a damaged device before redeployment.
Nonetheless, the presence of duct tape and a bottle cap used to replace a fuel cap – as the drone is powered by a single-cylinder four-stroke gasoline engine – indicates that Russian troops are using whatever materials they can to continue surveillance.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.