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Now-famous Liutyi Ukrainian drone narrowly hit own command centre during first trials

Monday, 13 May 2024, 10:37
Now-famous Liutyi Ukrainian drone narrowly hit own command centre during first trials
Collage: Ukrainska Pravda

The Liutyi (Fierce) Ukrainian long-range drone narrowly missed hitting its own flight control centre during initial tests at the end of April 2023.

Source: UP’s article "Sanctions from 1000 kilometres away: the story of the Ukrainian drone Liutyi (Fierce) burning Russian oil refineries".

Details: During its first combat trials, the Ukrainian drone aircraft was supposed to attack Zmiinyi (Snake) Island. However, a malfunction occurred, and 50 kilograms of explosives flew from the sea straight onto the coast of Odesa Oblast. 

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It was impossible to issue an air-raid warning due to the secrecy of the trials.

It turned out that the autopilot installed to control the flight simply didn't allow the aircraft to crash into the ground. Therefore, the armed drone smoothly gained the designated altitude, but instead of diving and crashing into the island, it levelled off and flew towards the "Home" point.

Representatives from military high command (the exact individuals are unknown) and developers observed the launch from the launch site. They realised that the armed drone was flying straight towards them.

Lieutenant General Mykola Oleshchuk, Commander of Ukraine’s Air Force, who also observed the launch, ordered combat aircraft to be scrambled to shoot down their own drone.

But everything ended happily – approximately 30 kilometres from the shore, operators finally picked up the signal and regained control of the drone.

Quote from a member of the defence committee of the parliament, familiar with the course of the trials: "To be honest, nobody really believed in this drone. It's large, it's visible on radars. At that time, the Russians were already shooting down our Bayraktars (attack drones), so there was very little faith in our own development, made from scratch with no experience. And after they almost hit their own command centre with it, many simply shrugged off this project."

Details: After the failure during the trials, the story of what is now Ukraine's most successful kamikaze drone could have ended before it even began. But the developers didn't give up. They created the first prototypes with their own funds, taught the drone to fly, and eventually managed to launch it for an attack. Two weeks later, on 3 May 2023, the developers triumphed. Unexpectedly for the local authorities, an oil depot in the Russian village of Volna on the Taman Peninsula caught fire in the middle of the night.

As strikes reached Sochi, the Liutyi’s era began. Ukraine had obtained not just another drone, but the ability to deliver precise "fiery greetings" to targets over a distance of more than 1,000 kilometres.

Read more details about all the ups and downs of creating the Liutyi Ukrainian long-range kamikaze drone and its achievements in Ukrainska Pravda’s article.

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