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Video: Did Russia, Ukraine just have the first drone dogfight?

A small unmanned aerial systems "drone" flies over Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Greg Erwin)
October 20, 2022

A video recently taken in the air over Ukraine showed an unspecified Ukrainian drone hunting down a small off-the-shelf drone being used by Russian forces.

The video, which was shared by The Sun, showed the Ukrainian drone chasing the Russian drone over a field pockmarked with craters from the ongoing war. At one point in the chase, as the Ukrainian drone gets in behind the Russian drone, the Russian drone explodes in a shower of cheap plastic and smashed circuitry.

It’s not entirely clear how the small Russian drone was destroyed. Ukrainian text at the bottom of the video states “The Ukrainian drone pursues the Russian wanderer” and “after intercepting the controls, the Ukrainian specialist sharply increases the flight speed of the enemy drone in order to shake the suspended ammunition which causes its detonation.”

The text caption for the video suggests Ukrainian forces were able to hack into the controls of the enemy Russian drone and cause the drone to shake loose a bomblet it was carrying.

The Russian drone’s bomblet may have then collided with the landing skid of the small drone, causing it to explode against the drone rather than falling to the ground.

Both Ukrainian and Russian forces have used small civilian-style drones throughout the ongoing fighting in Ukraine. These drones have acted as aerial observers to surveil enemy positions and direct artillery fire. These drones have also been converted to drop grenades and whatever other small explosives they can carry on enemy positions.

This new video indicates Ukrainian and Russian forces are now taking their small quadcopters into head-to-head dogfights with their enemy counterparts.

This latest video isn’t the first time mini Russian and Ukrainian drones have clashed in mid-air.

Last week a Twitter user shared footage from a Ukrainian drone, showing a small Russian drone trying and failing to ram it out of the air. Rather than knocking its opponent out, the Russian drone instead appears to snap some of its propellers and tumble out of the sky.

“I do believe Ukraine has just gotten the first documented victory in a drone-on-drone dogfight in military history,” the Twitter user joked.

“Both drones were airborne providing spotting support when the Russian drone moved in to try and knock the Ukrainian drone out of the air,” that Twitter user added. “It would appear that was a mistake.”