Ukrainian Breakthrough — Drones That Outsmart Russian Jamming

Wes O'Donnell
6 min readJun 5, 2024
Photo by Fikri Rasyid on Unsplash

As Ukrainian artillery ammunition has become scarcer over the past year, the AFU has found itself relying more heavily on consumer and home-grown drones to take the fight to the Russian invaders.

I, and many other analysts, have written at great length about Ukraine’s phenomenal adoption of consumer videography drones to deliver explosives with great precision over long distances — provided they can maintain connections with GPS satellites (so they know where they are) and their operators (so they know what to do).

The most common consumer drones on the Ukrainian battlefield are drones made by Chinese manufacturer DJI, which boasts a high-efficiency antenna that sends a light bridge of data to and from the operator.

The issue, however, is that these drones are not manufactured to survive in contested environments. In other words, their light bridge of data is unencrypted and the drone itself is not “hardened” to withstand electronic warfare.

This means that Russians could intercept the signal between the drone and the operator and get a precise location on the Ukrainian operator — and then target him or her.

DJI even makes a product called the Aeroscope which tracks all drones in a particular region and gathers up all the unencrypted data…

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Wes O'Donnell

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