Ukraine Now Using “Cardboard Drones” to Devastate Russian Airfields

Wes O'Donnell
3 min readAug 30, 2023
The Corvo PPDS courtesy SYPAQ

If there were a single phrase that could define the Ukrainian war effort, specifically its attack capabilities, it would be “bang for the buck.”

In the summer of last year, I marveled at Ukraine’s ‘MacGyver’ army and its ability to do more with less.

A year later Ukraine is still showing the world how wars will be fought in the decades to come.

Named after Edgar Allen Poe’s favorite bird, the raven, Ukraine is now using the Australian-made Corvo Precision Payload Delivery System (PPDS) to destroy Russian aircraft.

The Corvo PPDS is an ultra-light drone with an airframe made of waxed cardboard (waxed to make it waterproof) and supplied as a self-assembly flatpack.

You read that right — this diminutive war machine is shipped like a piece of furniture from IKEA. Except, unlike Swedish furniture, the Corvo PPDS is held together with only sticky tape, rubber bands, and glue that is supplied with the shipment.

While some employees of the company call it waxed cardboard, the product spec sheet says the airframe is made of lightweight foldable foam board.

As you might imagine, this makes the drone exceptionally cheap — it has a price tag of only $670–$3,350 depending on the version and quantity. Meanwhile, the U.S. is spending over $10,000 for a single oil filter for the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.

As far as specs, the Corvo has a range of 75 miles and can travel at speeds more than 35 mph for one to three hours.

Interestingly, the Corvo only has a payload of 3,000 grams (about 6.6 lbs.) and yet, Ukraine has adapted it from a surveillance drone into an attack drone.

With its capacity, it can only hold a few pounds of explosives.

But apparently, that’s enough.

On August 27, Ukrainian media claimed that 16 Corvos had been used in an attack on the Kursk Vostochny Airport in Russia, with three shot down and the other 13 damaging four Su-30 and one MiG-29 aircraft, an S-300 radar, and two Pantsir air defense systems.

Remember, Russian fighter jets cost tens of millions of dollars… Bang for the buck.

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Wes O'Donnell

Army & Air Force Veteran | Global Security guy at War is Boring, GEN, OneZero | Intel Forecaster | Law Student | TEDx Speaker | Pro-Democracy | Pro-Human Rights