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Single Propeller-Driven Yak-52 Took Down Eight Orlan-10 and ZALA Drones

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Yak-52 aircraft in the lens of russian drone in the skies over the Mykolaiv Region, June 2024 / Open-source video screenshot
Yak-52 aircraft in the lens of russian drone in the skies over the Mykolaiv Region, June 2024 / Open-source video screenshot

Everything that's known so far about the Ukrianians' use of these aircraft for air defense operations against russian UAVs

Recent photographs of a Yak-52 trainer aircraft have surfaced, revealing that the crew of this particular aircraft has successfully downed six Orlan-10 reconnaissance UAVs and two Zala drones deployed by the russian invasion forces. This discovery indicates that the Yak-52 is being used to counter russian drones far more frequently than publicized videos suggest.

To date, footage of Yak-52s engaging enemy UAVs has only been documented in two instances: on April 27 over the Odesa Region and in early June over the Mykolaiv Region, both in southern Ukraine.

Read more: ​Yak-52 Sport Aircraft Takes Down russian Orlan-10 Near Odesa
One of the Yak-52s at the disposal of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, June 2024 / Defense Express / Single Propeller-Driven Yak-52 Took Down Eight Orlan-10 and ZALA Drones
One of the Yak-52s at the disposal of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, June 2024 / Open-source photo

Despite all this instances being supported by visual evidence, the on-board armament used by Ukrainian Yak-52s to hunt down enemy drones remains a mystery. Until now, it was assumed that the small arms of one of the crew members were used to shoot the drones.

This time again, although the recent photos show the aircraft up close, the canopy is covered with a tarpaulin, preventing further assumptions about the armament. Understanding the weapons used on the Yak-52 is crucial, as it would determine the feasibility of scaling up the use of piston-engine aircraft to counter russian UAVs in the future.

One of the Yak-52s at the disposal of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, June 2024 / Defense Express / Single Propeller-Driven Yak-52 Took Down Eight Orlan-10 and ZALA Drones
One of the Yak-52s at the disposal of the Defense Forces of Ukraine, June 2024 / Open-source photo

The authors of The War Zone have also taken note of this imagery, suggesting that the Ukrainian Defense Forces may have two or three Yak-52s operated by the Civil Air Patrol, which has previously participated in operations against russian invaders in other formats.

Interestingly, they declare the value of a Yak-52 is approximately $50,000 or UAH 2 million. While this relatively low price might give an impression that Yak-52s could be widely available on the civilian market, in fact, the opposite is more likely: the Civil Air Patrol seems to be one of the few regular operators of this aircraft type.

On the other hand, there is a certain irony that a piston-engine aircraft costing around $50,000 is used to shoot down russian drones of a similar cost.

Read more: Unique Destruction: Ukrainian Forces Neutralize russian Drone with the Bushmaster Cannon (Video)