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Ukraine has turned a light sport aircraft into a long-range strike UAV: what is known about the unique development

Ukraine has turned a light sport aircraft into a long-range strike UAV: what is known about the unique development

The West has once again expressed admiration for the ingenuity of the Ukrainian military in using non-standard approaches in warfare, particularly to defeat enemy targets. This time, they noted how the defenders turned at least two light sport aircraft into long-range strike drones.

One of them is believed to have crashed into the building of a Shahed drone factory in Tatarstan earlier this month, and the other recently crashed about 1,000 kilometers from the Russian border. This was reported in a Forbes article on April 27.

It refers to a photo posted by Russian propagandist Kirill Fyodorov this week. It shows an inverted handmade unmanned aerial vehicle on a Russian field.

According to the investigators, the airframe is an adaptation of the Skyranger Nynja sport aircraft, which can be purchased ready-made at the Aerosor factory in Kyiv or as a kit and then assembled by yourself. It can cover a distance of 600 km at a cruising speed of about 160 km/h with a payload of several centners.

Ukraine has turned a light sport aircraft into a long-range strike UAV: what is known about the unique development

"Good performance and pleasant handling": this is how pilot Dan Johnson described the aircraft in a comment to the publication.

The Nynja is similar in shape, size, and performance to another Ukrainian sport drone, which is an adaptation of the locally produced Aeroprakt A-22.

"On April 2, at least one A-22 unmanned aerial vehicle packed with explosives crashed into the industrial complex of the Alabuga Special Economic Zone (Tatarstan), 1,200 km from the Ukrainian border, damaging part of the Shahed drone factory that produced them for the Russian military," Forbes reminded.

Ukraine has turned a light sport aircraft into a long-range strike UAV: what is known about the unique development

According to analysts, a close look at the Nynja from the Russian propagandist's photo gives an idea of how these homemade UAVs work. Judging by the picture, it was equipped with something like a video camera that provides a picture to a "remote" operator. Communication is probably maintained via satellite. And the autonomous navigation is likely to be carried out using GPS. The photo also shows that the drone was carrying a FAB-100 lightweight air bomb on a suspension under the bottom.

"Carrying an explosive payload under the bottom rather than inside the cockpit, as the A-22 apparently does, could mean that the Nynja drone could drop the bomb and then turn around and return to base. This would make it reusable," the analysts emphasized.

Judging by the area where the drone fell, they believe it is unlikely that it had enough fuel for the return trip. But at the same time, they emphasized the low cost of such a device: they say it is several hundred thousand dollars, which is "a steal compared to a multi-million-dollar cruise missile."

Ukraine has turned a light sport aircraft into a long-range strike UAV: what is known about the unique development

"There isn’t really a compelling reason for Ukraine to use a Nynja drone more than once. Just send it on its way and strike something valuable: a Russian air base, factory or oil refinery. Even merely bothering Russian officials is worth the cost.," Forbes supported the ingenuity of the Ukrainian military.

They did not say how many Nynja drones Ukraine might have in service. The owner of the basic design has sold licenses to Ukrainian manufacturers to produce at least 1,600 aircraft. Pilot Mathieu Bourdin, who was consulted by the publication, said that Nynjas suddenly became scarce in Ukraine with the outbreak of a full-scale war.

"I let you imagine why," he joked, while analysts suggested that Kyiv is "buying up all the Nynja gliders" that the local industry can make to turn them into explosive drones.

As reported, the other day the Ukrainian Armed Forces shot down two Russian reconnaissance drones (ZALA and Orlan-10) from a Yak-52 aircraft in the Odesa region. It is assumed that the military installed a machine gun inside the two-seat single-engine training sport monoplane, or one of the crew members fired.

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