It’s a highlight reel and hype video worth watching. A Twitter user spliced together different footage from Ukrainian drones dropping unguided bombs. In the two-minute-long video, an astonishing 36 different Russian tanks are shown exploding into massive fireballs. It appears the drone doing the damage is a mere octocopter called the R18. This looks like a hobby drone, but don’t be fooled by its appearance. This thing is deadly and Russian tanks have no answer for it.
Where Are These Drones Coming From?
The R18 has been developed for military use by a non-governmental organization called Aerorozvidka. These folks are determined to eliminate Russia’s military hardware by using drones and other “innovative tools.” The NGO has 10 civilian members and 100 people in reserve that help out the organization when they can.
Who Are These Guys?
The group was founded in 2014 during the Euromaidan protests and Russia’s annexation of Crimea. These information technology experts had an idea – why not pool their brains and experience to come up with new battlefield solutions and intelligence for the Ukrainian military?
Homegrown Battle Drone
By 2022, the group had indigenously developed the R18 to drop bombs and anti-tank grenades on Russian armor. The R18 has eight propellers with a range of 2.5 miles and can stay in the air for around 40 minutes. It can carry 11 pounds of munitions and hit a target from an elevation of 300 to 900 feet.
Modify Old Anti-Tank Grenades
These Ukrainian volunteers are crafty. They took an RKG-3 or RKG-3EM Soviet-era anti-armor hand grenade then gave it a modified fuse and aerodynamic fins. These modifications enable an explosion from 900 feet high where the enemy cannot see or hear the drone. Now called the RKG-1600, this bomb is highly accurate within a three-foot radius. It also uses the original penetrating anti-armor basis of the early Soviet design to be especially lethal against a tank’s weakest part – the lighter armor on the turret. In addition to tanks, the RKG-1600 can destroy armored personnel carriers, artillery units, plus command and control vehicles. Personnel can execute 300 missions a day with the R18 drone.
— This is the 🇺🇦 (@SpiritOfKabanah) June 16, 2022
You Can Give to the Cause
The R-18 drone is only $20,000 and Aerorozvidka takes donations in PayPal so you can contribute toward the acquisition of new models to fight Russia.
Group of Successful Professionals
The people behind the group are motivated brainiacs, according to its communication director. “Some of us have PhDs. Some have masters. Some are from the IT industry and many other industries. The main thing which unites us is a desire to win this war.”
The Drone Can Fly 20 Hours a Day
The members have built or modified commercial drones from France and China, but the R-18 is the most effective. Different members fly the R-18 for most of the day. The R-18 is active at night with its thermal imager.
Other Missions Beside Unmanned Flight
Aerorozvidka does more than drone warfare. One team is involved with cyber offensive and defensive operations against Russia. Another unit builds target maps showing the easiest tanks to hit with the R-18 and other drones.
The NGO may even be staffed by former civilian drone operators who competed in unmanned vehicle competitions before the war started. The operation of the R-18 is simple though. Users just fly over the tanks and drop the bombs.
Every Ukrainian Can Help the War Effort
Russia has underestimated the universal will that the Ukrainians have assembled to defend the homeland. The best and the brightest Ukrainians are motivated to help in the war efforts, while Russia depends on conscripts who may not want to be fighting in the first place. Aerorozvidka may grow stronger as more media outlets showcase their exploits. Additional funds raised means more drones and perhaps new recruits to the cause. Brainpower looks to be trumping Russia’s military hardware. We will see if it is enough civilian human capital for Ukraine to ultimately succeed.
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.