What may be the last, desperate minutes of a Russian soldier’s life are captured in the latest video released by the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Rubak Wild Division. It’s a First Person View (FPV) drone unit of the 82nd Separate Airborne Assault Brigade that have made it their daily business to hunt tanks and other vehicles, and yes, sometimes change down individual soldiers. The video serves as a stark reminder of the rapidly changing reality of drone warfare, which is becoming far more 'personal' than it once was.
The incident captured, backed by a stirring musical score, shows drone-on-man combat and a soldier’s hapless effort to survive.
The FPV drone is seen in the opening of the video approaching a Russian soldier standing near a cart. It swoops in ever closer and begins chasing him around it. A few seconds later, the video cuts to the view from another drone recording the deadly dance from afar.
For the next 13 seconds, the video alternates between the drone camera views. At about the 24-second mark, the soldier, realizing he has no way to escape, picks up a stick in a last-ditch attempt to club his robotic attacker out of the sky. It's a desperate scene, to say the least.
Several more quick cuts between the two drones ensue as the FPV drone furiously circles the soldier who lunges in vain with the stick.
Then, at the 39-second mark, there is a bright white flash of the FPV drone detonates near the soldier, followed by a puff of black smoke.
The Twitter video cuts off there, but a longer version posted on the Rubak Wild Division Telegram channel continues for a few seconds more. It shows the soldier writhing around in obvious pain before lying motionless on the ground.
It is unclear what happened to him, but at best this was not a good day.
Rubak Wild Division, as noted earlier, has released a number of FPV videos, which all open with a cartoon of a metallic dragon, red laser shooting from its eye, dropping a munition from its steel claws.
In a video released earlier this month, one of the unit's FPV drones is seen targeting a Russian soldier in a trench. Unlike the one by the cart, this soldier is armed and attempts to shoot the drone down. Though there is a shower of sparks, apparently from a direct hit on the FPV, the defense attempt via small arms is ultimately unsuccessful.
This video shows the unit going after a Russian tank near Verbove in Zaporizhzhia Oblast.
You can see more of the Rubak Wild Division's work in this compilation video below.
The impact of FPV drones — which descend from racing drones — in this war cannot be overstated. They have provided highly-manueverable and hard to defend against precision strike capabilities en-masse over short ranges. They have begun to eclipse the utility of traditional anti-tank weapons in some regards and even artillery in certain applications. Ukraine and Russia are building them feverishly in the thousands. As of late, Ukraine's dominance on the battlefield with these weapons is eroding as Russia spools-up its own FPV drone production and strike teams.
Regardless, unmanned warfare has rapidly evolved during this nearly two-year-old all-out war, with drones now providing a much more up-close and personal threat to enemy troops nearly anywhere that has can be accessed from the sky.
Contact the author: email@example.com