Unmanned dogfight: Two drones have allegedly engaged in midair combat over Ukraine

Some interesting footage of an apparent Russian drone being knocked out of the sky by a Ukrainian drone has been released.
Christopher McFadden
The Russian drone moments before impact.

Clash Report/Twitter 

According to the Clash Report, a Russian DJI Mavic quadcopter drone has been shot down in a World War 1-style dogfight with a Ukrainian drone. The footage of the stunning aerial combat, posted by the Clash Report, includes the message, “Russian drone marked with the letter “Z” was taken down by the Ukrainian drone.”

According to DJI, Mavic drones enable professional-level imaging. The DJI Mavic 3 is a robust flagship camera drone outfitted with a 4/3 CMOS Hasselblad camera. For a comfortable flight, it also features omnidirectional obstacle detection, a 46-minute maximum flight time, and a 15-kilometer maximum transmission range.

It is not entirely clear what happened from the footage, but the sudden change in camera angle from the Ukrainian drone would indicate it rammed the Russian drone. After what looks like a collision, the Russian drone is seen speeding away from the Ukrainian drone, either in a free fall or a fast retreat.

As far as can be ascertained, this is the second instance of an aerial clash between two drones over Ukraine. The Ukrainian and Russian armed forces often use the drones in question to keep an eye on things that have been caught on video.

In October, a Ukrainian activist and TV host named Serhiy Prytula filmed a similar battle between Russian and Ukrainian DJI Mavic quadcopters.

"WW1-style duel. Ukrainan Mavic-drone, which we have delivered to one of the airborne units in Donetsk region, destroyes russian opponent. Amazing!" he tweeted.

In this second video clip, it looks like the Ukrainian drone sneaks up on the Russian drone. It then dramatically appears to ram the Russian drone, damaging its rotors, and apparently sending it crashing to the ground.

Of course, since the footage ends there, we can't be entirely sure this is the case.

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Either way, as some Twitter users have pointed out, it does appear strange that Russian forces would take the time to daub reconnaissance drones with the letter "Z," as seen on other Russian hardware currently in Ukraine.

It could be the case that such footage is not genuine and, as some point out, could have been made for propaganda purposes. This would not be the first time Ukraine has done this throughout the war.

For example, the so-called "Ghost of Kyiv" is now widely believed to have been made up to help raise awareness and support for the Ukrainian cause.

Of course, we may never really know the truth.

Whatever the case, and if the footage is real, we may be seeing a glimpse of future aerial combat that could become the mainstay of wars of the future.

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