Ukraine’s Vampire Drones are a Russian Nightmare

Wes O'Donnell
5 min readDec 1, 2023

Russian troops have started calling the drone ‘Baba Yaga’ — after a mythical Slavic evil witch.

Courtesy AFU

The burgeoning, home-grown Ukrainian drone industry is hitting its stride as aerospace engineering students design new drones to repel the invaders.

One such drone is the Vampire Bomber Drone, which is fast, extremely hard to spot, and operates in the dead of night thanks to thermal imaging.

On Tuesday of this week, the defense ministry of Ukraine shared a video of the Vampire drone from United24, a Ukrainian government-run crowdfunding and digital-media site, calling the unmanned aerial vehicle “the Russian’s nightmare.”

Notably, Ukrainian soldiers around Bakhmut have been using the Chinese-made consumer videography drone DJI Mavic to spot and attack Russian infantry during the day.

Then, at night, the Vampire comes out to hunt for Russian armor.

The Vampire can carry a payload of up to 15 kg (about 33 lbs) and can travel up to 10 km at speeds up to 120 km/h. Its battery allows a flight time of approximately 25 minutes with a load of Russian nightmare juice.

Because of their ability to sneak up on Russian armor at night, and their large payload capacity, Ukrainian soldiers primarily use the Vampire to target Russian tanks.

Interestingly, the Vampire seems somewhat immune from Russian jamming efforts — the same can’t be said for Ukraine’s Mavic drones. This is understandable as the Mavic wasn’t meant for military applications.

What evil magic did Ukraine cast on the Vampire to make it resilient to Russian electronic warfare?

That is likely classified, but we can make some educated guesses:

One of the most effective anti-jamming measures is the use of frequency hopping.

Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) technology can be used to continuously switch frequencies during communication. This makes it…

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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