Crowdfunding Weaponized Drones In Ukraine

from the not-a-toy dept

Although it rarely makes it into the Western media these days, the bloody conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to smoulder along a vague and shifting front. The lack of direct support from the West means that the Ukrainians have had to come up with other approaches to counter Russia’s massive superiority in both technology and resources. According to a fascinating article in the Guardian, one way they are doing this is by using lost-cost drones, paid for by crowdfunding. One of Ukraine?s top IT outsourcing companies, Eleks, has been helping with the technical side:

Eleks, which is a private company based in both Ukraine and Nevada, pays healthy salaries. It allows staff to work on software and drone hardware projects that receive no government support or funding during work hours. They are doing this because, as their project manager, Ivan Dmytrasevych, told us, “We know we have to invest in the defence of our country. If our research works, and we can show the people that it works, then we will turn to crowdfunding to realise it.”

Eleks is working on a number of drone projects. One is to help Ukrainian drones return to base automatically if signals are jammed by the Russians:

Ivan says that the Russian forces have highly advanced systems to jam and intercept Ukrainian drones, which can easily send them off course and into enemy hands. “They have $7m systems to jam drones that cost thousands of dollars,? he explains. “We just can?t match their resources.” However, if they can slow down these types of losses, they can build up a useful force.

Another is to use drones to map Russian forces on the ground to provide coordinates for shelling:

“Just imagine that you take a map of some territory from Google Maps, and then your drone flies over the territory to take a picture. Artillery teams need exact coordinates from enemy positions shown on those images. Our software will help them get it instantly.”

That’s an indication that these crowdfunded drones are not just digital toys for the combatants, but designed to cause serious casualties in the real world. Indeed, they already have — on the Ukrainian side, during attempts to construct drones that could drop bombs on the Russians. According to the Guardian report, some of the engineers were killed as they worked on this project:

Firstly, these were essentially homemade and potentially faulty bombs. Secondly, the fact that they were launching drones multiple times from the same position quickly exposed their location. From what I’d been told, a mortar or sniper attack was guaranteed at this point.

Those risks are unlikely to dissuade engineers from using these up-to-the-minute means to counter the huge disparity between the opposing forces, since the Ukrainians don’t really have many other options.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “Crowdfunding Weaponized Drones In Ukraine”

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Kirinn Bunnylin says:

Re: Re:

Or, you know, on the one side we have the Ukrainians… on the other, inebriated thugs led by a Russian government leaning toward fascism.

At least we can agree it’s a lamentable situation, with brother taking arms against brother, and international treaties doing double duty as toilet paper.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

On the one side, we have Ukrainians, who were manipulated into a NATO backed coup unseating yet another democratically elected govt, even aligning themselves with domestic Neonazis, because the US was insensed that Russia didn’t want to become just yet another minor province within the NeoCon-AIPAC Empire.

On the other side, we have Putin’s Russia who insist on believing national sovereignty is still a real thing, and who do not believe a World govt. run by Apartheid Ubermenchen in Tel Aviv is good for anybody.

Just wait until the Leningrad-Shanghai trade axis really gets going, and Russia aligned with China convince Europe to abandon the US and Israel’s hegemonic plans.

tqk (profile) says:

Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis?

This is chapter two. Back then, the Soviets were looking at nuclear tipped missiles in Turkey. “Okay, we’ll put some in Cuba.”

USA: “NO WAY!!?!?11” And, we wound up a hair’s breadth away from Nuclear Winter (or worse).

Now, the US/NATO is pulling the same trick in Ukraine. Is the US sane enough to back away as the Soviets did? I’m not optimistic at this point.

Ukrainian expats dabbling with crowd-funded drones? How cute. Fools! This isn’t about your puny, corrupted little traditional homeland.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis?

No nukes are placed in Ukraine. In fact the country gave up all its nukes back to Russia and most were destroyed. Now as for american nukes, or british/israeli/french ones, no, we’re not there. If we ever are, then I’ll be extremely nervous and need a large script of Valium.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yes a proxy war. On one side we have Western Ukrainians, backed by America. On the other side we have Eastern Ukrainians, backed by Russia.

We can at least cut through all the propaganda and state the reality of the situation. Of course Russia is going to have the advantage in this proxy war, seeing as it’s in their backyard. The West is stupid for starting this war in Russia’s backyard.

The last time Russia tried started a war in America’s backyard was in Cuba and we had the Cuban Missile Crisis, which didn’t end well for Russia. Similarly, the Ukrainian proxy war isn’t going to end well for America.

It’s like nobody learns from history and history just keeps repeating itself over and over again. Sad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

This has been going on for a while, the insane tough talk (which came first from my blowhard zionazist PM Herr Harper and his lapdog the huge fat and dumb “defense” minister John Baird (google image him to get a good look, imagine this guy as def secretary in the US…we’d all be dead in 2011 when the “conservatives” got their Majority(which they will lose big time in October according to polls). In my opinion, this will end in a new berlin wall in Kiev and 2 Ukraines. It was punishment engineered by Saudi Arabia for not going on an all out war in Syria in 2013 because even Joe Blows knew something was wrong about that chemical weapons attack, the fact it happened the day the UN guys arrived was even mentioned as suspicious ONCE on CBC radio. 5am news on cbc radio are the most informative, they give a lot of details about their news stories they will never include again and never repeat. I guess it’s news for the “patricians” if you get what I mean.

Personanongrata says:

NATO Is Just Another Word For US Goverment Stooge

Although it rarely makes it into the Western media these days, the bloody conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to smoulder along a vague and shifting front.

It isn’t Russia verse Ukraine.

It is Ukrainian seperatists verse criminal Ukrainian pustch.

never ending spiral says:

Re: Re:

“We need less interventional policies towards foreign countries not more.”

But the standard solution to the problems of too much intervention is even more intervention. And when that doesn’t work, then still EVEN MORE INTERVENTION.

It’s like accidently shooting yourself in the foot, then shooting your foot a second time, with a bigger gun, in an attempt to remove the first bullet.

ISIS is just the latest example of that never-ending spiral.

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