Ukrainian Teen’s Drone Hobby Helps Thwart Russian Troops

The 15-year-old drone pilot spotted the column of the Russian troops's position overhead as they were headed to Kyiv, according to a report.

In the early days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a 15-year-old drone hobbyist turned into a Ukrainian hero after he used his personal drone to surveil Russian troops advancing on his city, relaying their coordinates to defense forces near Kyiv, according to a report.

The information led to Ukrainian forces attacking the convoy of Russian soldiers and stopping their invasion of Kyiv, according to a report by Global News. The Canadian news outlet said it had confirmed the report with the boy’s parents, as well as the top official of Ukraine’s drone owners group and a commander with a Ukrainian military’s unmanned reconnaissance unit.

“He was the only one who was experienced with drones in that region,” commander Yurii Kasjanov told Global News. “He’s a real hero, a hero of Ukraine.”

The teen, who was identified as Andrii Pokrasa, said he was asked by civil defense officials to help provide GPS coordinates of Russian troops moving toward the capital. Ukrainian troops then used the information to shell their position.

“He’s a real hero, a hero of Ukraine.”

Ukrainian commander Yurii Kasjanov to Global News

“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,” he said. 

The teen said he began piloting the commercial drone last year, but that once the war began, neighbors became concerned that the hobby could make the area a target. Pokrasa and his father then began flying it from a field at night.

It was during a night flight the teen spotted the Russian convoy stopped on a highway from the Belarus border, about 40 km west of Kyiv and only about two km from his position.

“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,” Pokrasa told the news outlet.

Drones, including those available commercially, have increasingly become a game changer in the ground war in Ukraine.

“Drones have been the big equalizer. They’re a force multiplier, they can completely help level the playing field,” Draganfly drone CEO and co-founder Cameron Chell recently told FLYING. “Literally, you can put up a $2,000 consumer drone and you’ve now got reconnaissance, you’ve got troop coordination, they can drop grenades. It’s nuts,” he said.

Draganfly’s medical response drones, which are outfitted with a temperature-managed payload box capable of transporting up to 35 pounds of medical supplies, such as blood, insulin and antibiotics, are currently being deployed in Ukraine. 

Drones have also proven to be a powerful addition to Ukraine’s air defenses.

The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2, for example, has played a critical role in Ukraine’s defense. The drones are capable of carrying up to four laser-guided munitions that have a reputation for being effective against ground-based targets, such as Russian tanks and mobile air defense systems. They have a flight range of up to around 186 sm, and they can fly up to 27 hours at a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet. Takeoff, landing, and flight control are all fully automated. 

In April, a 1,500-pound TB2 drone was credited as being an integral component in an Ukrainian operation that sank the Soviet-era missile destroyer Moskva


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