Russians captured a FlyEye drone used to correct artillery fire

WARSAW, POLAND — The Russians are bragging about the Flyeye drone captured in Ukraine. Photos of a complete unmanned aerial vehicle manufactured by WB Group have appeared on social media linked to Russian propaganda. It is worth noting that this is the first machine of this type in Russian hands, although they have been intensively used by the Ukrainian army since 2015.

Russians captured a FlyEye drone used to correct artillery fire
Twitter screenshot

The photos of the captured drone appeared for the first time on January 9 on the “War Gonzo” channel of the Russian journalist-propagandist Semyon Pegov. As he claims, the machine was captured by Russian soldiers during the fighting in the Luhansk direction. It is difficult to confirm this information since the photos do not show the circumstances of the acquisition of this loot, but parts of the hull are presented in a closed room.

The aircraft, as seen from the photos, is in good condition and most likely was not shot down or disabled in flight, but rather captured on the ground. Perhaps it was in the equipment of the eliminated unit of the Ukrainian special forces or artillery. These two formations most often use Polish unmanned aerial vehicles. The observation module whose nameplate is visible in the pictures was manufactured last year. All machine elements are described in Polish.

Since 2015 in Ukraine

The interesting thing is not that FlyEye was captured by the Russians, but that it happened so late. UAVs of this type have been used in combat operations by the Ukrainian Armed Forces since 2015 and have never once been intercepted by the enemy. Also, the direct Russian aggression, which has been ongoing since February 24, 2022, has not yet brought such gains, although the Russians have already acquired various types of weapons that have been used by the Ukrainians for a much shorter period.

As representatives of the FlyEye machine manufacturer, ie. WB Group, emphasizes that this event has propaganda significance, but does not affect the safety of the use of these machines by Ukraine, or even more so by Poland.

FlyEye is protected

First of all, the FlyEye machines have many software and hardware protections designed to prevent or seriously hinder enemy penetration of the captured equipment and its secrets.

Russians captured a FlyEye drone used to correct artillery fire
Photo credit: Pulaski.pl

In addition to these limitations, the Russians also face a technological problem. Before they can use the data obtained with this machine, the next generation of FlyEye will enter the service.

It is also worth noting that FlyEye has a modular structure, which makes it easy to modify selected elements of the system. Software changes can be made at runtime without modifying the hardware.

Upcoming modernization

Despite minor external differences, the currently delivered machines already represent the FlyEye 3.0 version, in which, among other things, the control range has been increased to 50 km. In the last days of 2022, WB Group concluded an agreement with the Armaments Agency regarding the modernization of some of the FlyEye UAV systems used by the Polish Army.

About FlyEye

The FlyEye unmanned aerial system deployed for service in the Polish Armed Forces is a mini-class hand-held unmanned aerial system, which in the latest version – FlyEye 3.0 – has a manufacturer-specified range of 50 km using a standard antenna.

The optical-electronic head has a daylight and thermal imaging camera, and the communication and control systems are characterized by a high degree of resistance to interference. In case of loss of contact with the operator, the machine can fly according to a pre-provided flight plan.

Russians captured a FlyEye drone used to correct artillery fire
Photo credit: Polish Army

The take-off weight of the hull is 12 kg, and its flight duration is estimated at over 2.5 hours. In addition, it is highly resistant to interference. Representatives of the WB Group emphasize that FlyEye, in addition to the “traditional” tasks of conducting observations or correcting artillery fire, can also perform, among others, the role of a repeater of communication systems. This is possible thanks to the design, where the task module, landing separately on the parachute, is interchangeable and, in addition to the standard reconnaissance configuration, can appear in special-task variants carried by the same standard aircraft structure.

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