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'Kyiv needs you!' Citizens urged to fly personal drones against Russia in 'moment of fury'


The amazing call by the military saw a Facebook post read: “Kyiv needs you and your drone at this moment of fury” asking for both drones and experienced pilots to operate them. The request comes as Russian forces advance on cities across Ukraine, with Kyiv seeing a convoy of Russian trucks, tanks and armoured personnel carriers lie in wait outside the city.

One drone seller in the capital has said his entire stock of 300 DJI drones has been donated to the cause.

A typical DJI Air 2S drone, capable of flying up to 10km in range, and capturing 4K footage retails in the UK at around £1,000.

Other drone suppliers and enthusiasts are working hard to ship in the quadcopters from friends and retailers in Poland and other parts of Europe.

Denys Sushko, head of operations at Kyiv-based industrial drone technology company DroneUA told AP: “Why are we doing this? We have no other choice.

“This is our land, our home.”

Prior to the war, Mr Sushko provided drones to farmers and energy companies.

Mr Sushko, who was forced to flee his home following an explosion said: “We try to use absolutely everything to help protect our country and drones are a great tool for getting real-time data.

“Now in Ukraine, no one remains indifferent.

“Everyone does what they can.”

Unlike the much larger Turkish-built combat drones Ukraine has in its arsenal, off-the-shelf consumer drones aren’t much use as weapons — but they can be powerful reconnaissance tools.

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Civilians have been using highly portable drone cameras to track Russian convoys and then relay the images and GPS coordinates to Ukrainian troops.

Some of the machines have night vision and heat sensors.

However, there is a risk attached to the use of consumer drones.

DJI, the leading provider of consumer drones in Ukraine and around the world, can easily pinpoint the location of an inexperienced drone operator, and no one really knows what the Chinese firm might do with the data.

This makes some volunteers uneasy.

DJI declined to discuss specifics about how it has responded to the war.

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Company spokesperson Adam Lisberg told the Military Times: “DJI makes its products entirely for civilian use, and we deplore any use of our products to cause harm.

“However, just like the manufacturers of pickup trucks or mobile phones, we are unable to control how they are ultimately used.”

Taras Troiak, a dealer of DJI drones who started the Kyiv retail store, said DJI has been sending mixed signals about whether it’s providing preferential access to — or disabling — its drone detection platform AeroScope.

In the meantime, Ukrainian drone experts said they’ve been doing whatever they can to teach operators how to protect their whereabouts.

Mr Sushko said: “There are a number of tricks that allow you to increase the level of security when using them.”

HOW DO YOU RATE THIS EXAMPLE OF UKRAINIAN RESILIENCE? DO YOU OWN A DRONE, WOULD YOU DONATE YOURS? COULD DRONES WIN THE WAR FOR UKRAINE? LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK BY CLICKING HERE AND JOINING THE DEBATE IN OUR COMMENTS SECTION – EVERY VOICE MATTERS!

Ukraine has high levels of competent drone users across the country.

Faine Greenwood, a US-based consultant on drones for civic uses such as disaster response said: “They’ve got this homebuilt industry and all these smart people who build drones.”

However, the use of such drones also comes with a stern warning to its operators in Ukraine.

One Australian drone expert, Mike Monnik said: “The risk to civilian drone operators inside Ukraine is still great.

“Locating the operator’s location could result in directed missile fire, given what we’ve seen in the fighting so far.

“It’s no longer rules of engagement as we have had in previous conflicts.”

Speaking of how such drones may become a new form of weapon, PW Singer, an author who writes on war robots said: “We will see ad-hoc arming of these small civilian drones much the way we’ve seen done in conflicts around the world from Syria to Iraq and Yemen and Afghanistan.

“Just like an IED or a Molotov cocktail, they won’t change the tide of battle but they will definitely make it difficult for Russian soldiers.”



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