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Surveillance Craft or Dumb Bomb? Ukraine Soldiers Shoot Down China-made Drone Carrying Payload


Last Updated: March 17, 2023, 15:46 IST

A Ukrainian serviceman flies a drone on the outskirts of Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine on December 30, 2022. (AFP)

A Ukrainian serviceman flies a drone on the outskirts of Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine on December 30, 2022. (AFP)

The UAV was flying at a very low altitude, close enough to bring it down with hand-held weapons, a Ukrainian soldier said

Ukraine soldiers have shot down a weaponised China-made drone using assault rifles in the eastern part of the country last Sunday, a report has said.

The drone- Mugin-5, made by a Chinese manufacturer based in China’s eastern coast of Xiamen, was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers using their AK-47 automatic weapons, CNN reported.

The report, quoting tech bloggers, said that the drone was also known as “Alibaba drones” as they are available for sale for up to $15,000 on Chinese websites including Alibaba and Taobao.

Mugin confirmed later that the UAV was their airframe and called it “deeply unfortunate.”

This is the recent incident where a civilian drone has been retrofitted and weaponized amid Russian aggression in Kyiv.

The drone was first spotted in the Ukrainian territory by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) that agents in Russian-held Ukrainian territory have launched the drone and it is moving towards a Ukrainian target.

The Ukrainian soldiers spotted the drone at 2 am on Saturday and heard the noise overhead. The UAV was flying at a very low altitude, close enough to bring it down with hand-held weapons, Maksim, a 35-year-old territorial defence fighter, said.

“From the sound, from the signal light, the troops fired a lot at it and knocked down the UAV,” Maksim said.

The drone was also carrying a payload, a bomb of approximately 20 kilograms, which was later safely detonated by the soldiers.

However, there was no camera fitted on the drone which implied that it was not being used for surveillance and could have been used as a “dumb bomb”.

Experts say that both Russia and Ukraine use commercially available Chinese platforms such as this drone during the conflict.

NR Jenzen-Jones, an arms and munitions intelligence specialist, said, “In this case, the Mugin-5 Pro was likely being used in a ‘bomber’ role, and not as a one-way attack (OWA, also called ‘sacrificial’) UAV.”

He added that the munition loaded onto the drone was likely to be a “high explosive fragmentation” design.”

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