​Active War, Simpler Drones: Ukrainian Military Operate Domestically-Made Cheap Chaklun UAV (Video)

Ukrainian-made "Chaklun" UAV / Illustrative photo credit: Chaklun project
Ukrainian-made "Chaklun" UAV / Illustrative photo credit: Chaklun project

This drone has not as impressive capabilities, but a very significant advantage: it is cheaper than many UAVs

Ukrainian-made "Chaklun" unmanned aerial system was developed by model aviation enthusiasts after the start of the russian invasion, and it only started mass-producing them in the second half of 2022.

These drones, however, are already used in the frontlines by the Ukrainian military who value how relatively cheap and easy to handle they are, in the video below, published by the "Ye Pytannia" project and the 111th Brigade of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces.

Read more: Survivability of UAVs On the Battlefield In Ukraine

The niche occupied by the Chaklun (Ukrainian for "Wizard") is for those who had never operated a winged UAV before but had no experience in doing so. A relatively cheap system is a perfect variant for them, says "Kris", an air reconnaissance specialist of the 111th Brigade.

The cost is "comparable to a Mavic 3," he says. According to Defense Express observations, the cost of this Chinese-made copter in Ukraine varies from $1,900 to 3,500. As for the Chaklun system, "it is made of polyurethane foam, basically polystyrene, it's very lightweight yet durable, tougher than it looks, easy and cheap to repair," assures "Kris".

Ukrainian "Chaklun" UAV / Photo credit: Opentv.media

Earlier Defense Express pointed out that an average lifespan of a winged UAV in hostile conditions on the battlefield is about six sorties, by that time it usually gets jammed or shot down.

The task of the "Chaklun" drone is to take off and go around a predetermined route. It has all coordinates set in advance via a computer built in the controller, and internal systems that make it stick to the program: an inertial navigation system to calculate its current position and a GPS-tracker to adjust it.

A system kit includes one controller and two aerial vehicles
A system kit includes one controller and two aerial vehicles / Photo credit: Chaklun project

The most important part is that it cannot be influenced by electronic warfare systems, such as jamming or control interception, as claimed by the manufacturers and confirmed by the soldiers on the ground. During the flight, it operates in fully autonomous mode, even the controller is only needed for setting the route with GPS-marks and takeoff/landing. When it comes under enemy EW influence, it is said to automatically return back to base.

First-person-view camera of the UAV

However, it comes with drawbacks, such as it cannot provide data on-line, which is not a problem though, as pointed out by "Kris", since it was designed with another idea in mind.

"Mavic was designed to find the target in real time, here and now, and strike it immediately. Here, [on the "Chaklun" UAV], the task is set to find stationary targets which can be scouted out later knowing where they are, and then adjust the recon and strike with other means," he explains.

The Chaklun can go 50 km deep into the enemy lines and back. While on that, it takes photos with geolocation markers. All data gets ciphered on a detachable storage. A protracted flight though can cause minor errors in its apprehension of current location by inertial system, which is why it needs adjustment from an in-built GPS navigator. It can also raise itself up to 3,000 km high to avoid interference.

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