Ukrainians crowdfund mysterious anti-drone weapon
A Ukrainian blogger has crowdfunded more than $4 million to purchase a drone defense system for Kiev’s military. However, it is unclear what kind of system exists to counteract the UAVs currently targeting Ukrainian infrastructure.
Igor Lachenkov, who describes himself on social media as a “Ukrainian influencer,” told Radio NV on Friday that he had launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise 100 million Ukrainian hryvnia ($2.7 million) to purchase a radar-based “interceptor” to counter the explosives-laden drones targeting critical infrastructure across Ukraine in recent weeks.
The drones, denoted by their distinctive delta-wing silhouette and low-altitude flight, are believed to be Russian-modified versions of the Iranian-made Shahed-136, an autonomous ‘kamikaze’ drone. Despite video footage showing similar devices destroying targets in Ukraine, neither Moscow nor Tehran has officially confirmed the use of these drones, and Iran maintains that it has not sent weapons to any party in the conflict.
By Saturday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Fedorov announced on Telegram that the crowdfunding initiative had raised 150 million hryvnia ($4.08 million).
However, Lachenkov told Radio NV that he “cannot announce the name of the system until we buy it” for security reasons, referring to the radar-based platform only as a “Shahed Hunter.” The blogger explained that the system supposedly “intercepts” an incoming drone and raises it to a height where surface-to-air or shoulder-fired missiles can shoot it down.
It is also unclear what kind of device can override a Shahed’s guidance system, which relies on an inertial system of motion sensors and gyroscopes to guide itself to a target. Ukrainian sources have alleged that Russia upgraded the Shahed to utilize satellite guidance, which can theoretically be jammed from the ground.
The US military has no effective method of defending against drones like the Shahed-136 at present.
As of earlier this month, the US has supplied Ukraine with an unknown number of “counter-unmanned aerial systems.”