Video Shows Ukrainian Ground Drone Dragging Off Captured Russian UAV

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A Ukrainian ground drone has dragged away a fallen Russian aerial reconnaissance drone, new footage appears to show, as Kyiv increasingly debuts its uncrewed ground drone fleet ahead of the second anniversary of full-scale war in the country.

The uncrewed ground vehicle (UGV) can be seen apparently towing away what appears to be a Russian Orlan-30 reconnaissance ground vehicle at an unspecified point along the front line, according to footage shared to social media on Tuesday, originally from a Telegram account documenting Russian and Ukrainian equipment losses.

The Orlan-30 is a larger version of Russia’s Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone, described in Russian state media as vital in seeking out and identifying targets.

The brief clip was attributed to Ukraine’s national police, although it does not appear in recent published videos from the force. Newsweek has approached Ukrainian authorities and the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment via email.

Ukraine has invested heavily in unmanned technology, with its waterborne and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) frequently hitting the headlines as they target Russian assets in the Black Sea or make their way over the border into Russian territory.

An Orlan Russian drone on June 15, 2023, in Kyiv, Ukraine. A Ukrainian ground drone towed away what appears to be an Orlan-30 reconnaissance drone at an unspecified point along the front line, according to…


Zinchenko/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

Kyiv has not ignored the development of UGVs. Much like airborne drones, these vehicles can perform a range of functions and keep Ukrainian soldiers further away from vulnerable and dangerous positions.

Ukraine unveiled plans for its “Army of Robots” last year, a ground-based initiative to work alongside the country’s “Army of Drones” in the skies.

In mid-September 2023, Ukraine’s drone tsar and Digital Transformation Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, said Kyiv was testing its “Ironclad” unmanned robot in front-line combat missions. The uncrewed ground drone is fitted with a machine gun, and provides reconnaissance as well as fire support, Fedorov said in a statement.

Both Russia and Ukraine are developing UGVs intended to “replace human soldiers in the most dangerous and casualty-intensive storming raids,” Samuel Bendett, of the Center for Naval Analyses, told Newsweek in late January.

Russia has also developed robots that it has designated for use in Ukraine, including the AI-enabled “Marker” combat robot.

“We are witnessing a similar pattern on both sides when it comes to UGV developments,” Bendett said. “The vehicles tend to be on the smaller side, to minimize the chances of getting discovered by the ever-present aerial drones,” he said, adding they are often rudimentary and cheap.

“The overall goal is to perform simple missions like advancing on the adversary position, forcing the enemy to shoot it and therefore reveal his position for subsequent strikes by ground or aerial systems,” Bendett said.