Russian military spot Ukrainian drone before strike
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Andrii Pokrasa was approached by the Ukrainian army for support in spotting and stopping a Russian convoy near Berezivka, around 40km west of Kyiv, from reaching the capital. Yurii Kasjanov, the commander of the armed forces’ unmanned reconnaissance section, said: “He was the only one who was experienced with drones in that region.” Despite his young age, the teenager’s contribution proved vital.
Andrii said the military asked him to obtain the GPS co-ordinates of the advancing Russian column.
He said: “They provided us information where approximately the Russian column could be. Our goal was to find the exact coordinates and provide the coordinates to the soldiers.
“It was one of the biggest columns that was moving on the Zhytomyr road and we managed to find it because one of the trucks turned on its lights for a long time.”
Commander Kasjanov said: “He’s a real hero, a hero of Ukraine.”
Speaking to Global News, the teenager said he’d mixed feelings about his involvement in defending Kyiv, as he was certain Russian men — “occupiers but anyway people” — would die.
He said: “First of all, I was so happy, but also it was people there.”
The moment he spotted the convoy was “very, very scary”, the boy recalled.
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He said: “I gave them the coordinates and photos, and after that, they targeted the location.
“And I needed to co-ordinate more specifically where they should shell with artillery.”
The information was sent to a territorial defence unit via social media and allowed troops to stop the approaching Russians.
Andrii said he only purchased his first drone last summer, though quickly got into flying it almost every day.
When the full-scale war began in February and he was approached to help identify Russian formations, his neighbours feared the drone would make them a target, he explained.
He said, he and his father would launch their sorties from a nearby field at night.
After his initial success, the Ukrainian military provided the boy with a longer-range drone.
He is now in Poland, where he fled with his mother, and is continuing his ninth-grade studies.
Since the conflict began on February 24, drones — both military and commercial ones — of all shapes and sizes have been used by both sides in the conflict.
The former can be used for aerial surveillance and to attack targets on the ground; the latter, meanwhile are showing unprecedented results – the case of Andrii and the convoy heading towards Kyiv being just one example.
While they have been seen in previous conflicts, such as in Syria, their use was far less extensive.
Some of the smaller drones used by Kyiv in fighting include the AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma AE and the Turkish Bayraktar-TB2.
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Now, though, Ukraine is upping its game when it comes to the deployment of unmanned aerial systems against Russian forces.
Washington plans to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones that can be armed with Hellfire missiles for battlefield use against Moscow, three people familiar with the situation told Reuters.
The Gray Eagle can fly up to 30 or more hours depending on its mission and can gather huge amounts of data for intelligence purposes.
Gray Eagles, the army’s version of the more widely known Predator drone, can also carry up to eight powerful Hellfire missiles.
The sale is important as it puts an advanced reusable US system capable of multiple deep strikes on the frontlines against the Kremlin for the first time.
A US official told the news agency the Biden administration intends to notify Congress of the potential sale to Ukraine in the coming days with a public announcement expected after that.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday renewed calls for more arms to fight invading forces.
In an interview with the Financial Times, he said his soldiers had slowed down their liberation of Russian-occupied territories because of a lack firepower and manpower, according to a transcript of his remarks provided by the leader’s office.
Kyiv needs 10 times the amount of weapons and men to move forward with its counteroffensive, he said.
It came as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said Moscow’s military had occupied 97 percent of the territory of Luhansk, one of two regions that make up the Donbas region – the current focus of Vladimir Putin’s war goals.
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