Meanwhile the attention of the public and the media is focused on the powerful Bayraktar TB2 and glamorous AeroVironment Switchblades (we haven’t seen the examples of the use of the latter ones, by the way), there are less famous drones, which destroy the enemy on the fronts. They are Ukrainian R18 octocopters from volunteers from Aerorozvidka.
Non-governmental organization Aerorozvidka was founded by Maidan volunteers and IT specialists back in 2014 and from the beginning of the war in eastern Ukraine has been assisting the Ukrainian military primarily with intelligence, as it is stated in the name of the association. But recently, in addition to surveillance and reconnaissance drones, there have been R18 octocopters in the Aerorozvidka’s arsenal, with videos of the successful destruction of rashists being widely circulated online.
R18 is an octocopter, i.e. a vertical take-off and landing drone with eight propellers capable of carrying several kilograms of payload. R18 is a completely custom model created in Ukraine by Aerorozvidka, which uses domestic and imported components.
R18 has a range of 4 km, can be in the air for about 40 minutes, and most importantly, can carry 5 kg of free-falling bombs. Soviet cumulative RKG-3 anti-tank grenades or RKG-1600 bombs created on their basis by the gunsmiths of Mayak Plant are used as bombs. The R-18 drone is capable of carrying two bombs/grenades and dropping them from a height of 100-300 m, hovering over the target. Using the RKG-1600 bomb, the R18 drone can hit a target within a radius of 1 m from a height of 300 m.
But even if you miss, there is another bomb, so the attack can be repeated before the enemy has time to react. The thing is Aerorozvidka prefers night missions using the tactics of Special Operations Forces. Thanks to the drone’s thermal imager and the use of light vehicles, such as bikes, to get closer to the enemy, R18 attacks are unpredictable and effective.
Soviet hand-held cumulative grenade RKG-3 is designed to destroy tanks, self-propelled units, and armored vehicles, as well as to destroy defense structures. It was put in service in 1950. Depending on the modification of the RKG-3, it has an armor penetration of up to 220 mm. That is, theoretically, it should not severely damage the modern tank, but Aerorozvidka also successfully destroyed tanks with R18 and RKG-3. But the main targets for these drones are staff vehicles, radars, self-propelled artillery, air defense and MLRS systems, rear depots, and so on.
The cost of one R18 drone, according to Aerorozvidka, is about $20,000, the cost of old Soviet grenades can be neglected, so this method of destroying enemy equipment is still quite budgetary.
In addition to the R18, Aerorozvidka uses the PD-1 reconnaissance drone, which can stay in the air for 8 hours. Each day, the unit conducts about 300 drone missions.
If you want to help Aerorozvidka fighters and raise funds to build new R18 drones, you can do so at the official website of the organization .