The Russian Defense Ministry has boasted about the technology of new drones it can use in its invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow has relied on Iranian-made Shahed-136 UAVs, known as “kamikaze drones,” for its airstrikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure in recent months. However, British defense officials said in February that Moscow has likely “exhausted” its number of drones and is “likely to look for additional supplies”.
On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video showing paratroopers using “Boomerang VR (virtual reality) headset-controlled kamikaze drones.”
“The UAV units of the Airborne Force are actively using small Boomerang first-person-view (FPV) quadcopters to storm positions of the Ukrainian army,” the post reads, which was also reported by the state news agency Tass.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not provide any information on who manufactured or supplied the drones.
An operator controls the device with a VR headset to seek and hit a target. An assistant launches the drone and tracks its flight direction to guide the operator.
The Russian MOD said it has four rotors, four small motors and one large storage battery. The UAV is extremely maneuverable and is said to travel at up to 110 miles per hour, hitting moving targets as well as troops in dugouts and special shelters.
“As a key feature, the kamikaze drone carries a special container filled with striking elements and filled with explosives and a detonator,” Tass reported.
Because it didn’t have a satellite communications module, “anti-drone defenses are powerless against it,” according to the ministry, which said they could be piloted at “a minimal height just above treetops.”
news week has asked the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense for comment.
Abishur Prakash, co-founder and geopolitical futurist at the Toronto-based Center for Innovating the Future, said VR is a modern technology that is entering the war in Ukraine and could be under scrutiny around the world.
“The West may be critical of companies that invest in companies that supply Russia with drones or VR systems,” he said news week. “Meanwhile, a great opportunity could arise for firms in China and Iran — or even other nations in Asia and the Middle East — to quench the thirst for new technology and drag those nations to war in a deeper way. “
He said VR, which could be used by Russia and Ukraine, could also be used to predict social unrest in certain areas. “Right now, VR is being used to control drones, but its use may be expanded soon,” he said.
Moscow has accused Kiev of using drones to attack Russian territory, and there has been a recent spate of what the Russian media has dubbed “unidentified flying objects” or UFOs, which Ukraine has neither directly claimed nor denied .
Meanwhile, the US has expressed concern that Moscow is looking to China to procure drones similar to the Shahed-136 and that Beijing may soon be “deadly supporting” Russia’s war effort. China has denied the allegations.