It’s not for no reason that the Ukrainian marine corps’ 36th Brigade has been able to seize, hold and even expand a bridgehead in Krynky on the otherwise Russian-controlled left bank of the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast.
Ukrainian electronic-warfare crews and drone-operators have taken control of the sky over Krynky—first by grounding Russia’s drones, and then filling the air with Ukraine’s drones.
Now a famous Ukrainian drone commander has revealed one of the ways his comrades target their Russian counterparts in Kherson: by intercepting Russian drones’ video feeds and using them to identify Russian drone bases. Then relaying the bases’ coordinates to the 36th Brigade’s artillery for precision strikes.
Ukrainian commander Robert Brovdi detailed one example of this kill-chain in a video that circulated online this week. The sequence began when a Russian first-person-view drone launched somewhere in Kherson.
The drone’s video feed was “intercepted immediately” by Ukrainian E.W. specialists, Brovdi said. Many FPV drones relay their video back to their operators along widely-used radio frequencies and without much encryption, making them fairly easy to hack.
The Ukrainian E.W. crews relayed the Russian drone video to the 36th Marine Brigade’s own operators, who geolocated its origin—and launched a reconnaissance drone to inspect the apparent Russian launch site. “We can look around while preparations are being made,” Brovdi quipped.
By “preparations,” he meant “artillery.”
Brovdi pointed out the telltale signs that convinced the Marine drone crew it had found a Russian FPV base. A certain radio antenna, for one, and also the distinctive cable connecting the antenna to the building where the Russian operators apparently had set up shop.
What happened next was the foregone conclusion to the forensic E.W.-drone-intelligence-artillery kill-chain. Shells or rockets rained down, and blew up the Russian FPV base.
It was an impressive operation. Arguably as impressive as another operation Brovdi recently briefed to the media: a record-fast Ukrainian FPV strike on a Russian vehicle. One that took just 80 seconds from detection to destruction.