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​Ukrainian Manufacturer of Tsukorok Drone Detector Wants to Shift From Chinese Components

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The Vanilla Tsukorok, a variant of Tsukorok / Photo credit: Yurii Biriukov
The Vanilla Tsukorok, a variant of Tsukorok / Photo credit: Yurii Biriukov

The electronic warfare system has been positively reviewed by soldiers on the frontline operating it, but the creator hit the wall of production expansion

Increase in production of the well-known in Ukraine Tsukorok drone detector has slowed down due to dependence on a Chinese component, says Serhii "Flash" Beskrestnov, electronic warfare and military communication expert on his Telegram channel.

"The device is made of two components. One is made by our people, in Ukraine, the other is bought ready-made from China. The production of the latter is limited to the capacity of one factory in China where they cannot/don't want to increase production, although they promised [to do so]," Beskrestnov explains and adds that there are no alternative factories that produce this necessary component.

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Tsukorok / Defense Express / Ukrainian Manufacturer of Tsukorok Drone Detector Wants to Shift From Chinese Components
The Vanilla Tsukorok, a variant of Tsukorok / Photo credit: Yurii Biriukov

Therefore, he continues, Drone Spices company, the manufacturer of Tsukorok, decided to establish domestic manufacture of the missing component. This, in theory, would multiply the production of the complete device up to 10 times the current volumes and even stockpile them.

A pile of Tsukorok SIGINT devices ready for shipment to the Armed Forces of Ukraine / Photo credit: Serhii Flash

However, the project lies entirely on the shoulders of volunteers, without support from the state, the expert notes with critique. The "optimistic prognosis" for the implementation of changes to the production process and first results is by the end of May 2024.

For reference, Tsukorok (Sugar Cube) is a man-portable situational awareness (signal intelligence) device designed to detect unmanned aerial vehicles and sound the alarm if one is approaching. Most importantly, it was deviced to notify the infantry or an artillery team if a suicide drone, like a Lancet, ZALA-Kub, or an FPV, is coming to their location so they can find a shelter. This small drone detector can be used as is or connected to an external antenna so that the user can keep track of the situation while hiding in a safe place.

A Ukrainian soldier holds a Tsukorok / Defense Express / Ukrainian Manufacturer of Tsukorok Drone Detector Wants to Shift From Chinese Components
A Ukrainian soldier holds a Tsukorok as it shows Zala drones detected nearby / Still frame credit: the US Infantryman community on Telegram

The declared specifications of Tsukorok V5 are:

  • detection range: 8–16 km; affected by weather, terrain, nearby EW systems;
  • detection time: up to 5 minutes for a target;
  • main frequency bands, in MHz:
    • 865–885
    • 902–928
    • 970-1020
  • additional module allows to scan 2.4 GHz band (Wi-fi)

Practical experience shows, however, there were instances when it detected relatively small-sized UAVs 40 kilometers away, though the most effective it proves within 5 km where the signal to detect is strong. The main operation mode — scanning — is passive in nature, i.e. it doesn't emit signals of itself, so enemy SIGINT systems can't detect it. Alternatively, it can be switched to the tracking mode that shows detailed info on the specific drone, its location and movement parameters. Estimated price per device is $52.

Typical threats it can detect are DJI Mavic-series, Eleron, Orlan-10, Supercam, Zala 421-series reconnaissance drones, as well as Lancet loitering munitions. If Tsukorok catches an uncommon signal, it marks the threat as unidentified.

Orlan-10 reconnaissance UAV / Defense Express / Ukrainian Manufacturer of Tsukorok Drone Detector Wants to Shift From Chinese Components
Orlan-10 reconnaissance UAV / Open-source illustrative photo
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