An elite Ukrainian drone unit takes advantage of nighttime cover to destroy Russian tanks and trucks while their soldiers sleep, report says

A Russian tank on the streets of Kherson, Ukraine.Thanks to Igor.

  • A Ukrainian drone unit has attacked Russian targets with anti-tank grenades while troops sleep.

  • The unit destroyed dozens of vehicles, including tanks and command trucks, The Times reported.

  • Ukrainian forces have had surprising success using drones to destroy Russian equipment.

An elite Ukrainian drone unit destroys weapons belonging to the invading Russian forces while their soldiers sleep, The Times of London reported Friday.

Aerorozvidka, a specialized air reconnaissance unit within the Ukrainian military, says it destroyed dozens of “priority targets” including tanks, commando trucks and other vehicles during nighttime raids, the newspaper reported.

Russian troops stop moving at night and usually place their tanks between houses in villages where conventional artillery cannot hit them, Yaroslav Honchar, the unit commander in Kiev, told the newspaper.

But the elite drone unit, which has dozens of squads of expert drone pilots, has these stationary vehicles in their sights.

“We strike at night, when the Russians are asleep,” Honchar told the newspaper.

An unnamed Ukrainian soldier told The Times it was “impossible” to see the unit’s drones at night.

“We specifically look for the most valuable truck in the convoy and then we hit it exactly, and we can do very well with very low collateral damage,” the soldier said. ‘It is even possible in the villages. At night you can get much closer.’

The unit’s arsenal of drones range from low-cost commercial to heavy octocopters modified to drop anti-tank grenades and to see with thermal cameras, the paper said.

A Bayraktar TB2 drone.

A Bayraktar TB2 drone.Muhammed Enes Yildirim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

The R18 drone has a range of 4 kilometers – about 2½ miles – and its ability to drop 11-pound bombs is particularly prized by Honchar’s drone warriors, the paper said. The team also uses the PD-1, or Punisher drone, developed by Ukraine, which can carry about 6½ pounds of explosives up to 30 miles away.

Since Russia began its invasion, Ukrainian forces have had success using drones like the highly-rated Turkish-made Bayraktar TB-2 to destroy the equipment of invading forces, Justin Bronk, a research associate at the Royal United Services Institute, wrote in The Spectator.

The drones’ success “speaks more to the skills of the Ukrainian operators and the incompetence and operational failures of Russian forces,” Bronk wrote.

Aerorozvidka’s drone unit, which flies up to 300 missions per day, according to The Times, works with Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite system, which was activated days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This means that drone teams can operate regardless of internet outages or power outages, which are rampant across the country.

“If we use a drone with thermal vision at night, the drone has to connect to the artillery man through Starlink and create target acquisition,” an Aerorozvidka leader told The Times.

Aerorozvidka uses an advanced NATO-backed intelligence system, Delta, which brings together information from a variety of sources, including satellites and drone reconnaissance to accurately identify targets.

This helps the unit make the most efficient use of its limited supply of bombs, according to The Times.

Aerorozvidka was founded in 2014 by model aircraft enthusiasts and has since been integrated into the Ukrainian General Staff following the success of its operations against Russian forces in Crimea, The Times reported.

In recent weeks, supporters from across Europe have donated drone parts and other equipment such as 3D printers to help build and repair devices damaged by Russian small-arms fire.

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