Ukraine’s US-Made Drones a Disappointment From the Start

Aide Wishes They Could 'Return' Drones

by Jason Ditz, December 21, 2016

Among a series of different military equipment the Obama Administration provided to the Ukrainian military over the last year of ceasefire in the eastern civil war, the US gave the nation some 72 Raven RQ-11B micro-drones, surveillance drones worth an estimated $9 million.

Despite the US giving them the drones, and training them how to use them (which, in all fairness, mostly involves throwing the tiny “hand-launched” drones and then viewing an analogue video feed), Ukraine has a serious case of buyer’s remorse, or at least recipient’s remorse.

Ukrainian military officials say the drones have been a disappointment from the start, complaining that the eastern rebels have shown the ability to hijack the video feeds and even jam them more or less at will. Those familiar with the device say this is unsurprising, as the drones are analogue and thus don’t use any encryption to protect data.

Ultimately, Ukrainian officials say the drones took way too long to arrive, were not very useful, and they wished they could’ve returned them to the US, though naturally they can’t.

For their part, the US sought to blame Russia for their drones being lousy, insisting Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities are “sophisticated,” and presumably they have shared enough with the rebels to foil the drones.

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