An elite Ukrainian drone unit on quad bikes ambushed Russian forces, helping to defeat Putin's plan to capture Kyiv, report says

·3 min read
Maxar satellite imagery of the northern end of a Russian convoy, southeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine on 28 February 2022.
Maxar satellite imagery of the northern end of a Russian convoy, southeast of Ivankiv, Ukraine on 28 February 2022.Satellite image (c) 2022 Maxar Technologies.
  • A Ukrainian drone unit used quad bikes and night cover to ambush Russian forces, The Guardian reported.

  • Aerorozvidka was first set up by tech-savvy, university-educated Ukrainians.

  • The elite unit, which flies up to 300 missions a day, is crucial to the Ukrainian campaign.

Night ambushes carried out by a team of Ukrainian special forces and drone operators on quad bikes have helped turn the tide of the Russian invasion, The Guardian reported.

Aerorozvidka is a specialist air-reconnaissance unit within the Ukrainian army, which has claimed to have destroyed dozens of Russian "priority targets," including tanks and command trucks.

The unit's commander, Lt Col Yaroslav Honchar, told The Guardian about an ambush near the Ukrainian town of Ivankiv, which helped stop a 40-mile mechanized Russian column heading to attack the capital Kyiv.

Equipped with night-vision goggles, sniper rifles, and remotely detonated mines and drones, the team of about 30 Ukrainian soldiers approached Russian forces by riding on quad bikes through forests under cover of night.

Some of the drones used by the unit were equipped with thermal imaging cameras, and others were capable of dropping small 1.5kg bombs.

"This one little unit in the night destroyed two or three vehicles at the head of this convoy, and after that, it was stuck. They stayed there two more nights and [destroyed] many vehicles," Honchar told The Guardian.

After the attack, Russian forces re-strategized by breaking the column into smaller units to try and continue towards the capital.

However, the same team mounted an attack on the Russians' supply depot, which stopped them from being able to advance, Honchar told The Guardian.

"It all happened because of the work of 30 people," Honchar told the paper.

Aerorozvidka was formed in 2014 by a group of young university-educated Ukrainians and IT specialists who volunteered to design their machines to help resist Russia's invasion of Crimea and the Donbas region, according to The Guardian.

It was founded by investment banker Volodymyr Kochetkov-Sukach, who was killed in action fighting Russian separatists in Donbas in 2015, the paper said.

The unit integrated into the Ukrainian general staff following the success of its operations in Crimea.

Now, the elite unit, which flies up to 300 missions a day, according to The Times of London, has played a key role in bolstering Ukrainian resistance against Russia.

Antonov Airport in Hostomel Ukraine
A satellite image showing damage to buildings and fuel tanks on fire at Antonov Airport in Hostomel, Ukraine, March 11, 2022Maxar Technologies via Getty Images

Along with the attack on the Russian convoy, Aerorozvidka claims to have helped defeat a Russian attack on Hostomel airport near Kyiv, The Guardian said.

Despite the unit's apparent success, it relies upon crowdfunding and donations to get hold of much-needed components such as advanced modems and thermal imaging cameras. These US and Canada-made parts are subject to export controls that prohibit them from being sent to Ukraine, The Guardian reported.

In recent weeks, supporters from around Europe have been donating drone parts and other equipment, such as 3D printers, to help build and repair devices damaged by Russian small-arms fire, per The Times.

Aerorozvidka partly operates using Elon Musk's Starlink satellite system, activated in Ukraine days after Russia invaded.

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