Russia boasts: FPV drone operator has killed 300+ fighters

The efficiency of FPV drone operators has surpassed the legendary snipers from the Great Patriotic War, according to the Russian publication Izvestia. They highlight a particular Russian drone operator who demonstrated remarkable effectiveness. 

Russia boasts: FPV drone operator has killed 300+ fighters
Photo by Sergey Lantyukhov

“A Russian soldier employed FPV drones to eliminate over 300 Ukrainian Armed Forces [AFU] fighters, while the celebrated WWII sniper, Hero of the USSR Vasily Zaitsev, claimed over 240 fascist lives,” Izvestia reported. This revelation came from an instructor at the “Rokot” Tactical Special and Initial Military Training Center, known by the call sign Pinochet, during an interview with RIA Novosti on May 27. 

“A Russian FPV drone operator has taken out more than 300 enemy combatants. This places them on par with the great sniper Hero of the Soviet Union, Vasily Zaitsev,” Pinochet told RIA Novosti. 

Russia made a Drone Rapid Response Unit training 150 FPV operators
Photo credit: Yandex

The instructor pointed out that training an FPV drone operator takes just two to three weeks, whereas training a sniper takes at least six months. Pinochet elaborated that a sniper must stealthily reach the combat line, find a concealed position, observe patiently, and then escape after taking down the target. In contrast, a drone operator can engage from a significant distance, providing a strategic advantage.

The FPV range is much wider

According to Pinochet, FPV drone operators enjoy a wider range of target options compared to snipers. These drones can tackle “fortified” targets or those hidden in trenches, which traditional snipers might struggle to hit. Additionally, they can target various types of equipment, including tanks. 

Watch: 20 Russian workshops produce thousands of FPV drones per day
Video screenshot

Earlier, on May 27, Russian servicemen from the Nevsky Brigade used FPV drones to attack Ukrainian Armed Forces positions in the Special Military Operation [SMO, Russia, and the media in the country use this term instead of war or invasion] zone. 

On May 25, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that a paratrooper-operated FPV drone downed the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Baba Yaga attack hexacopter. The drone struck the enemy aircraft, causing it to explode and fall on Russian territory without causing any injuries.

At least 5,000 operators

Ukraine produces 50,000 FPV drones per month, Russia 300,000
Photo credit: Pinterest

Back in January, BulgarianMilitary.com reported that Russia’s Ministry of Defense had trained an impressive 3,500 FPV drone operators, a detail echoed by Russian state media in their 2023 updates. Additionally, they were in the process of training an extra 1,700 operators to master various other types of unmanned aerial vehicles [UAVs]. 

Notably, the data underscores that Russia is backing this initiative with over 800 educational institutions dedicated to the cause. Furthermore, more than 1,500 new training positions have been introduced. 

This substantial figure—3,500 FPV drone operators—highlights a significant strategic push by Moscow to ramp up this segment of its military capabilities. It indicates a strong link between the number of trained personnel and the anticipated deployment of FPV drones.

T-80BV's cope cage saved tank crew after being hit by an FPV drone
Video screenshot

Concentrated effort

Let’s take a step back to October when Maxim Sheremet, the Ukrainian founder of DroneSpace, shared some thought-provoking insights on the market landscape in Ukraine and Russia. He noted, “Ukrainian companies produce approximately 50,000 FPV drones per month, while Russian firms produce six times that number.” By this estimation, Russian manufacturers are churning out around 300,000 drones monthly. 

While these figures may be accurate, they also imply Ukraine’s ambitious goal to ramp up production to 1 million FPV drones in 2024, representing a 67% increase. Experts believe this target is indeed attainable. However, it’s equally crucial to develop strategies to counteract this emerging threat with urgency and speed. 

Ukraine is throwing 300 DJI-made Mavic 3T drones at the Russians
Photo credit: Twitter

As a reminder, during his New Year’s Eve address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mentioned that Ukraine would need to produce just over 2,700 FPV drones daily to hit the annual target of 1 million drones.

How does FPV work?

An FPV [first-person view] drone offers a unique flying experience by allowing you to see exactly what the drone sees. This is made possible through a camera on the drone that streams live footage to devices like glasses, monitors, or smartphones. While these drones are often used in civilian life for aerial photography or racing, in Ukraine, they’ve found a more menacing application. 

RPG round mounted in a drone's nose cone will engage Russian tanks
Video screenshot

FPV drones rely on several core technologies to perform efficiently. Central to their function is the FPV camera, which captures live video. The video signals are sent to the operator’s display through a video transmitter [VTX]. The display, commonly FPV goggles, receives the signal via a video receiver [VRX]. Additionally, these drones are equipped with flight controllers that ensure stability and maneuverability, utilizing tools like gyroscopes and accelerometers. 

When equipped with explosive warheads, FPV drones have become an essential element in Ukraine’s combat operations. Operators can select and strike targets with precision. The casualties of these devices extend beyond soldiers to include military equipment, vehicles, and even fortified structures like bunkers.

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