Over the past three years the volunteer-run organization Ukrainian Centre for Aerial Reconnaissance trained about 200 Ukrainian servicemen – aerial reconnaissance professionals to serve at the front. It was reported by Maria Berlinska, head of the Ukrainian Centre for Aerial Reconnaissance at a press-briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Origins of the Center
“We organized the training process and have been supporting it for the third year. We are thus able to train professionals,” Berlinska said. First practical training session was held in October 2014. In January 2015 the Center was set up and systematic training started. The organization was established with the support of the National University Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and is financed from donations. Among the Center’s donors is the Ukrainian community of London.
What the drones are used for at the front
Using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for reconnaissance purposes considerably decreases time required to obtain important data, saves military reconnaissance units from losses as well as allows to get comprehensive data on the operational environment. Aerial reconnaissance helps detect where the fire comes from, how the adversary is changing positions and redeploying the equipment. “If we had aerial reconnaissance developed to the high standards as well as if the military orders were correct, we would not get surrounded into ‘pockets,” Maria Berlinska said in an interviews to a Ukrainian media.
Why it’s volunteers who run Ukraine’s aerial reconnaissance?
Volunteers note that in the third year of the war, there is no systematic state support to aerial reconnaissance, neither there are groundbreaking engineer developments in the field.
What the training is like
The training comprises a theoretical part and actual flight practice on drones – multicopters and gliders. Basics of drone-flying are practiced by using simulators and flying actual drones. The Center provides accommodation and provides meals to its trainees for the duration of the course. The training session lasts for about one month, a maximum of 15 persons may get trained in one session. Servicemen are accepted into the course upon the request from the combat unit commander. Aerial reconnaissance volunteers also travel to and collect intelligence at the front.
The training process is expensive. “It requires considerable investment in terms of resources and equipment,” said the organization’s resource coordinator Ihor Kateryniuk. “We often need drones, batteries and other items that wear with time,” he added.