By Boyko Nikolov
Photo credit: Twitter
It looks like very ordinary news, but in fact, it is directly related to the war in Ukraine. Until a few days ago, Russian users from the territory of the Russian Federation could not buy DJI or Autel civilian drones. As of yesterday, March 2nd, this problem no longer exists.
The online sale of drones for Russians was quite limited. For example: on March 1st, Russian citizens couldn’t buy civilian drones online from the Alibaba e-store. Using geographical location scripts, if the site’s server detected that the login attempt was made from the territory of the Russian Federation, the message “No such page” or “Page can not be found” was displayed.
What’s more, the Chinese drone manufacturer DJI removed the drone control application from the AppStore if someone from the territory of the Russian Federation tried to download or use it.
Late in the evening of March 2nd, however, China defacto through Alibaba removed the restriction for the Russian market, and thus from today, everyone can freely buy a DJI or Autel drone if they are located on the territory of the Russian Federation. Also, Alibaba no longer restricts Russian users from other users of other nationalities. I.e. restrictions based on nationality specifically for Russians have also been omitted.
Why is it important?
Why is this news important? In a purely civilian and civilian aspect, Russian citizens will once again be able to purchase drones for their civilian or hobbyist needs. Not that they haven’t done it before. But in purely military terms, the authorization opens the door wide to the purchase of hundreds of drones for the Russian military.
Once arrived in Russia, DJI or Autel drones are re-modified for military purposes. These drones can be used in three ways in Ukraine – reconnaissance, targeting an artillery shell, or kamikaze. The first way of use is completely clear. DJI or Autel, through their GPS systems integrated into them, can precisely provide accurate geographic locations of enemy ground military equipment or military units.
Once the signal is returned to the operator, he can feed it into the fire control system of an artillery platform. In this way, the projectile receives much more accurate coordinates of the target.
The third way is already very familiar among us, the public, watching videos of the war in Ukraine. A charge is placed on the body or under it [depending on the drone model]. Next is targeting the drone and when an enemy target is detected – a sudden change in direction and speed results in a collision with the weapon system and causes an explosion. How effective the blast is and what kind of damage it does to the enemy system is a completely different story.
DJI in Ukraine
At the end of last year, it became clear that Russia has hundreds of Chinese-supplied DJI drones. The so-called Chinese neutrality towards the war in Ukraine was momentarily disproved and showed that despite the lack of supplies of large weapons and lethal systems, Beijing still supports Russia in one way or another.
DJI drones in a military application are dangerous weapons. There is evidence that the Russians are not buying such cheap drones, but investing 12,000 euros each for much better quality, much more durable, and longer-range DJI drones.
The Matrice-30T drone model is most often bought by the Russians. This drone is equipped with AeroScope software that allows its operator to track enemy drones. This software is extremely important as it can track the trajectory of an enemy drone up to 50 km. This is quite enough for the conditions of the war in Ukraine.
With the “return” of the Russians to Alibaba’s online trade, it is expected that in the coming months, reports will arrive from Ukraine about DJI drones increasing use.
The views and opinions expressed in the preceding text are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Coverpage.