Shaheds spy on facilities through Ukrainian 4G networks

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Shaheds spy on facilities

The story of modems on Shaheds with SIM cards has continued. Now, Russians are installing video cameras on some drones that transmit images via the Ukrainian 4G network.

This was reported by Serhiy Flesh (Beskrestnov), a Ukrainian specialist in military radio technology.

That is, now Shahed also performs a reconnaissance function during the flight.

“Everything is very primitive: glue, tape, cardboard, screws, wires, cheap routers and cameras. But it works,” says Flesh.

Шахеди через українські 4G мережі шпигують за об'єктами

Control or telemetry

Earlier, experts asked the question why exactly do combat drones need access to the network? Obviously, it is about data transmission, but what kind of data, control or telemetry?

Initially, commentators focused on the idea of using mobile networks to navigate UAVs. That is, they seem to measure the signal of individual BSs and, knowing their coordinates, use them instead of GPS.

“This version looks weak. The power of the BS transmitters is not a constant and is constantly changing depending on a number of factors. So, it will not be possible to calculate the position in space independently, relying on the only indicator available to the terminal on board the UAV – signal strength,” says telecom expert Roman Khimich.

In his opinion, it will not be possible to rely on operator positioning services either, as no network in Ukraine currently supports full triangulation. The positioning accuracy of the available services varies from hundreds of meters to kilometers outside the city. Moreover, the position is provided on request and with a significant delay.

Therefore, the most promising is video and photography of the surrounding space. That is, GPS should work, allowing you to constantly have up-to-date data on the position in space. And having data on the position in space and the angles (angles) of onboard cameras, it is possible to determine the location of air defense firing positions and other objects with good accuracy.

“In other words, the UAV is turning into an effective reconnaissance tool capable of operating deep into Ukrainian territory,” the expert adds.

Shahed drones

Machine vision

According to the expert, the massive introduction of machine vision technologies (or, as it is now fashionable to say, “artificial intelligence”) can significantly reduce the impact on UAVs from various EW means. Relying on their own “eyes,” UAVs can independently overcome at least the last few hundred meters of the trajectory, where EW countermeasures are the greatest. This is how machine vision is being used right now. But this is only the beginning.

The logic of the “drone war” is pushing both sides to set themselves the task of completely and permanently suppressing satellite navigation (GNSS) wherever enemy UAVs can reach. The deployment of such a nationwide system has already been announced in Ukraine, and there is information about Russian analogs.

Having a digital model of the terrain along its route, the UAV scans the environment in one way or another, compares it with its own model, and thus determines its position in space.

Video cameras are very compact, require little power to operate, and are ideally suited to the needs of UAVs at the current stage of their development.

“If there are up-to-date maps, UAVs do not need satellite navigation or external control, so they may not emit radio signals at all. This greatly complicates the search, detection, and subsequent tracking of UAVs,” the expert notes.

Therefore, this technology requires detailed maps of the area, taken from a low altitude, from a completely different perspective than spacecraft and high-altitude reconnaissance vehicles can provide. Before an attack drone can be launched, another UAV needs to follow the same route, take continuous high-resolution photos or videos, and transmit the results.

Obviously, connecting to high-speed mobile networks is perhaps the only realistic option to transfer gigabytes of information. This is why modems and SIM cards of Ukrainian operators may be useful in shakedowns.

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