Sunday, December 4, 2022

Snatching A Drone! Ukrainian Forces Seen Using SkyWiper Anti-Drone Gun To Take Down Russian UAV

A video circulating online shows Ukrainian forces bringing down a Russian drone with the Lithuanian-made SkyWiper counter-drone rifle and then pulling it down with bare hands.

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The video released by the Ukrainian military shows a couple of Ukrainian soldiers, with one of them pointing the SkyWiper counter-drone rifle toward a small drone in the sky.

Shortly after, the drone descended toward the Ukrainian soldiers’ position. Finally, one of the soldiers grabs the drone before it touches the ground.

The drone seen in the video appears to be one of the Mavic series of quadcopters made by the Chinese consumer drone manufacturer DJI, which are used widely by both sides in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The Russian Embassy in China released a Weibo post in August, citing a retired Russian Army General, Yuri Baluyevsky, praising DJI drones and their capabilities.

“The Mavic quadcopter drone made by China’s DJI has become a true symbol of modern warfare,” said Baluyevsky, formerly the Chief of the General Staff of the armed forces of the Russian Federation.

SkyWiper Anti-drone gun
SkyWiper Anti-drone gun

The Ukrainian military has also appreciated DJI drones. According to a Ukrainian drone operator who fought in the battle for Lysychansk in the Donbas region, almost everyone, including the Ukrainian military and civilians on the front lines, is using these drones.

Meanwhile, the SkyWiper counter-drone system seen in the video has been used by the Ukrainian military since 2021, first against the Russian separatist forces in frontline areas of Donbas and currently against the Russian Army.

However, the anti-drone gun only came into the limelight in April when the photo of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, holding the gun began circulating on social media.

edm4s - Twitter Search / Twitter
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny (Right) Holing Skywiper Counter-Drone Gun (Twitter)

That said, while there have been claims of Ukrainian forces using this anti-drone rifle to bring down Russian drones, this is probably the first evidence from the Ukrainian military of the Skywiper rifle being used against a Russian-operated drone in the ongoing conflict, even if it is a consumer drone and not a military one.

SkyWiper EDM4S Counter-Drone Rifle 

The SkyWiper (EDM4S) Electronic Drone Mitigation System anti-drone rifle is produced by a Lithuanian company NT Service.

These guns are designed to neutralize small and medium-sized Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and can identify and actively disrupt UAV guidance, tracking, and navigation systems.

The small size of drones and their ability to move quickly makes it very difficult for kinetic weapons like nets, bullets, and missiles to detect, target, and attack them; therefore, in recent years, weaponized drones are emerging as game-changers on the battlefield, such as in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war and the Libyan Civil War.

In the wake of mounting UAV threats, the Ukrainian army ordered hand-held electronic warfare systems to counter drones.

The contract with NT Service was signed in 2020 through the NATO Support and Supply Agency for 37 SkyWiper EDM4S systems.

Under the terms of the agreement, the manufacturer has to customize the system to fulfill the requirements of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The version of the system sold to Ukraine is designated EDM4S-UA.

EDM4S SkyWiper (NT Service)

The operator is supposed to point the EDM4S jammer at a drone and then pull the trigger, following which an electromagnetic pulse will be sent in the direction of the UAV, which will disrupt the communication between the drone and its operators.

All system modules are mounted on a robust frame of light aluminum construction that resembles a rifle. The gun is fitted with four directional antennas, which can be expanded to six.

Two antennas for the 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz frequency bands with a power of 10 W each, one antenna for GPS interference for the 1.5 GHz band with a power of 10 W, while another one to interfere with the GLONASS system for the 1.5 GHz band with a power of 10 W are fitted on the gun.

A system adapted to work with other frequencies can be supplied on request.

The SkyWiper jammer is meant to be used by a single operator. It weighs 5.5 kilograms and has a range of 3-5 kilometers.

According to claims by NT Service, the EDM4S jammer uses a monitoring system connected to aerial detectors that alert the operator on duty about the drone intrusion and location.

Most Russian military drones come under small and medium-size categories, including Granat 1, Granat 2, Eleron-3, Zala models, Orlan-10, Takhion, and Zastava. These are small enough to disappear once they reach a typical operating altitude of a mile to a mile and a half.

Therefore, the EDM4S jammer system designed to engage small and medium-sized UAVs should also be appropriate to counter Russian military drones. However, there is no documented evidence of these jammers bringing down a Russian military drone.

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