Quadcopter with camera
Unmanned aerial vehicles, which Ukraine needs now, have already been developed and are participating in combat operations.

Their tasks:

  • intelligence service;
  • border monitoring;
  • fire adjustment;
  • dropping grenades.

Let’s analyze the assistance provided by the United States by highlighting the sector of UAVs with low takeoff weight and flight range. Consider the characteristics of typical representatives.

Mavic quadrocopter

Mavic Quadcopter: Powerful, Fast, Compact
This drone monitors the border around the clock from a height of up to 6 km. The recording is in 4K format and displayed on the operator’s monitor.

The quadcopter picks up signals from 20 satellites simultaneously, uses sensors in parallel. Confidently navigates open spaces and indoors.

The model has several versions. All of them are foldable, you can carry such a drone in a regular backpack. All have a photosensitive and high-speed CMOS matrix, and the cameras are on a suspension.

Mavic 2 can:

  • detect obstacles;
  • stabilize images using three axes;
  • transmit video with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (or 2.1 megapixels), the transmission range is no more than 10 km.


The device takes off at a speed of up to 5 m / s, and then increases it to 20 m / s. Stays in the air for up to half an hour. You can control it through an application on your smartphone, or a 4-channel remote control, the range is up to 5 km. The radio frequency band for data transmission is 2400-2483 GHz.

The Mavic 2 is powered by a 3850 mAh rechargeable battery. A discharged battery is fully charged in 1 hour 35 minutes. It takes 4 hours to fully charge the remote control battery.

8 GB of built-in memory is allocated for storing pictures and videos. If this is not enough, you can connect a microSD card with a capacity of 128 GB.

Temperature range: from -10 to +40 ºC.

The UAV distinguishes obstacles in 6 directions, you don’t have to worry about its safety.

The lineup

Versions differ in weight, dimensions, quality of streaming video and signal range. Price – from 500 to 1000 dollars, depending on the configuration. 

  dji Mavic Mini dji Mavic Air dji Mavic Pro Platinum DJI Mavic 2 Pro dji Mavic 2 Zoom
Weight, g 249 430 734 907 905
Folded size, mm 140x82x57 168x83x49 198x83x83 214x91x84 214x91x84 
Video Resolution 2720×1530 @ 40 Mbps 3840 x 2160 @ 100 Mbps 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Mbps 3840 x 2160 @ 100 Mbps 3840 x 2160 @ 100 Mbps
Matrix size, mm 6.3×4.7 6.3×4.7 6.3×4.7 13.2×8.8 6.3×4.7
Matrix, mp 12 12 12.71 20 12
Signal range, km 4 4 7 18 18

DJI Smart Controller 

DJI Smart Controller to Control Mavic Combines CrystalSky Monitor with Regular Controller
Designed to control Mavic 2. Compatible with drones that communicate using OcuSync 2.0 technology.


  • 5.5-inch display with manual and automatic brightness adjustment, the image is displayed comfortably even under direct sunlight;
  • built-in battery with a capacity of 5000 mAh, works without recharging ≈ 2.5 hours (during this time you can take, view and process photos), the battery is fully charged in ≈ 2 hours;
  • SkyTalk and DJI GO 4 Android software for piloting, shooting and sharing.

The functionality for processing video and photos can be expanded, since the operating system allows the installation of third-party programs. The data can be edited on the remote and then sent.

DJI Smart Controller to Control Mavic Combines CrystalSky Monitor with Regular Controller

Chip. You can use the remote for full-fledged broadcasts thanks to the built-in microphone and speaker, or connect storage media to watch videos. The system supports 4k 60fps playback, with H.264, H.265 codecs.


Mavic 2 Pro or Mavic 2 Zoom?

The Mavic 2 Pro integrates a Hasselblad camera with an adjustable aperture. The image sensor is one-inch, 20-megapixel. The DLog-M profile contains up to 1 billion shades. Thanks to HNCS technology, distortion is minimal, the color gamut is more natural and bright. There is little noise, even in low light.

The camera built into the Mavic 2 Zoom zooms in on Full HD by 4x. The Dolly Zoom effect works when the foreground is far away from the background. The focal length is adjustable, so switching from close-up to panoramic shots is easy. You can build maps of the area and photograph landscapes.

Both cameras shoot 4K video. They manage to keep the details and the video looks realistic. Bitrate 100 Mb/s.

When shooting stationary objects, the focus speed of the Mavic 2 Zoom camera is faster than the Pro version.

Aerial photography stabilization

Feature of DJI drones: three-axis gimbal. It controls the position of the camera in three directions: pan, tilt, roll.

Gimbal provides smooth camera movement

The drone does not need to change position to take a picture or record a video. It hangs in the air, and the gimbal with the camera rotates.

Stabilization systems eliminate the effect of camera shake caused by wind or outside influences. The algorithm determines whether the change in the camera position is caused by the operator’s directive, or is it the result of vibration and shaking.

Stabilizers work on engines. They are brushless, collector and brushless.

Optional equipment

DJI UAV with camera and spotlights
The DJI UAV has the ability to load the gimbal with something useful:
  • DJI iOSD Mark II module with telemetry display system;
  • cameras;
  • spotlight.

Sunnylife’s multifunction holder allows you to attach:

  • panoramic action camera Insta360 for shooting spherical photos and videos in 360˚ format;
  • one of the models of GoPro action cameras with a wide field of view for extreme filming and recording unblurred video in motion;
  • a small DJI Osmo Action or Pocket mobile camera with an integrated 3-axis gimbal for capturing smooth footage.

Attachment interface – ¼ inch. It is compatible with panoramic and action cameras that have the same size screw connection. You will need an adapter to connect your GoPro.

The holder is fixed at the top with a Velcro strap. Soft pads protect the body from scratches. There is a hole to access the sensor at the bottom of the quadcopter and the battery button at the top.

RQ-11B Raven

Drone RQ-11В Raven - reconnaissance at low altitudes

This is a tactical reconnaissance UAV, the smallest in the US Army. Takeoff weight – 1.7 kg, length – 0.96 m, and wingspan – 1.5 m. Conducts reconnaissance at low altitudes, monitors the situation in real time.

The kit includes a spare battery and charger. You can recharge in the Hummer car. The drone is transported in three containers.

The device is launched as an aircraft model. It is enough to turn on the motor and start it from your hand or a moving vehicle.

The price of the UAV is $35,000.


Flight range: 10 km.

Speed: 95 km/h.

Practical ceiling: 5 km.

Operating altitude: 30–152 m.

Flight duration: 1–1.5 hours

Engine: electric.

MTBF – about 200 sorties. This can happen due to a loss of communication when the drone flies out of range of the controller, or due to a software or hardware failure on the drone itself.

The material of the drone is Kevlar, which is used to make body armor and helmets.


RQ-11 Raven with night and day vision digital camera
The UAV is equipped with interchangeable target loads. The standard payload includes two cameras. The first is a daytime color CCD security camera. The second is a night vision camera with infrared illumination. Thanks to them, it is possible to conduct reconnaissance around the clock, but it is most convenient to use this apparatus at night, when it is invisible and inaudible.

Data is recorded and transmitted in MPEG format. There is no scaling option, so the image quality is average

Feature of this drone: you can install a laser target illumination system.


Controlling RQ-11B Raven UAV Using Video Game Skills
The UAV flies in automatic mode according to the programmed program. It is guided by GPS navigation and waypoints. But you can control it remotely, from a ground station. Transfer of control between operators is provided.

The RQ-11B Raven remote control is compatible with AeroVironment drones. It can be driven by Puma AE and Wasp AE. The controller allows you to record video or take screenshots, which are then sent to departments or management. Often this happens when the UAV is moving along a programmed route using GPS.

On command, Raven returns to the launch site and lands after descending and turning off the engine.

The first version was unstable in flight and difficult to land. AeroVironment, its developer, corrected the bugs, and the device has since successfully passed the test in Afghanistan.

Now these UAVs have digital equipment installed, which encrypts the transmitted data in order to prevent video interception. The new digital equipment controls 16 drones simultaneously (there were 4 on the analog one).

RQ-20 Puma

This is an improved version of the RQ-11B Raven.

RQ-20 Puma is an American-made light unmanned aerial vehicle.
  • intelligence service;
  • observation;
  • targeting. 

Like the Raven, it can be launched like a paper airplane, even in calm weather – from the ground, helicopter or ship. The UAV is oriented in space and returns to the place from which it was launched. The main thing for him is the station transmitting the signal.

This bird is worth $250,000.


Waterproof, can fly and land both on land and water.

Launch of the RQ-20 Puma drone from a floating vehicle
Durable, with reinforced fuselage structure. Moves silently.

Operating altitude: 152 m.

Flight range: 20 km, flies more than three hours. In new versions – 60 km and 5.5 hours.

Flight speed: from 47 to 83 km / h.

Wingspan: 2.8 m.

Length: 1.4 m.

Weight: 6.3 kg.


Operated from ground control station GCS. The operator can guide the UAV manually or program it for autonomous GPS navigation.

Voice, video, data and text are encrypted beyond line of sight.

The UAV uses GPS and inertial navigation systems to navigate or auto-land within 25m of a given location. Can land on water.

RQ-20 Puma: flight altitude 150 m


Feature 1 : Mantis i45N optoelectronic system with dual-axis, gyro-stabilized and multi-sensor payload for night photography. It includes conventional and thermal imaging cameras, both with 6x zoom. They increase awareness of the situation, allow you to notice the threat in time. Low light doesn’t interfere with cameras.

Feature 2 : target illumination with a laser beam for targeting high-precision weapons.

Next-generation imaging systems feature LWIR cameras and 7.6x electronic zoom. The new imaging system contains an upgraded 5-megapixel low-light monochrome camera sensor and an 860nm laser illuminator.

Optional equipment

To increase the carrying capacity and install lifting equipment under the wing, there is a separate compartment for installing payloads, for example:

  • communication relay;
  • geolocation determination system;
  • laser illuminator.

Switchblade 300

Switchblade 300 - Loitering ammunition that hits targets out of sight

The UAV patrols over a given area and waits for the moment to attack. It combines the advantages of a drone and an aerial bomb.

Kamikaze drones carry one or two grenades. They are able to fly into the window of a building or get into a tank hatch. Such UAVs cost several hundred dollars, but in order to operate them, qualifications are needed.

Loitering ammunition is named Switchblade for the analogy with a switchblade knife. Spring-loaded wings are folded inside the tube. They unfold as soon as the device takes off and rises into the air. Its price is 6000 dollars.

This shock drone can be used:

  • from mobile positions in the field;
  • fortified defensive lines;
  • to hit targets beyond line of sight.

Due to its compactness, the projectile can be launched from air, sea and ground platforms.

Launch of the Switchblade 300 projectile


Length – 610 mm, weight – 2.5 kg.

It is driven by an electric motor with a two-bladed propeller in the tail section of the fuselage.

Switchblade 300 approaches the target and attacks it at a speed of 157 km/h. It can fly 10 km and stay above the target for 15 minutes. Cruise speed – 110 km / h. 

Loitering ammunition has a warhead the size of a 40mm grenade. It is designed to reduce unnecessary damage from a directed explosion. A small fraction is scattered along a vector coinciding with the movement. 

What is included

Includes case and launcher. The device is easy to carry by one soldier. Its small size and quiet engine make it difficult to detect and track even at close range.

The projectile aircraft has a color video camera and GPS to identify, track and engage targets. It can be programmed to attack an object by coordinates.


The strike drone is controlled manually or autonomously. It transmits real-time video to the operator, as well as the GPS coordinates of the target for information gathering, targeting or object recognition.

The kamikaze drone, in which the warhead is integrated, flies to the target and waits for the operator’s command to attack or follows the established algorithm. The cargo can be exploded at a given height, which is adjustable in flight.

Switchblade: miniature loitering ammunition
At the command of the operator, you can disconnect and interrupt the task at any time, and then switch to another target.

Hits are accurate. They can be canceled at the last minute if they threaten civilians or nearby objects.

The projectile aircraft finds the target and pursues it until it is destroyed.

The video shows the launch of such drones.


So which of the light drones are most in demand today? It depends on the purpose of use.

The DJI Mavik 2 can handle the tasks of monitoring the border from the air. The price is from 500 to 1000 dollars, depending on the configuration. The operator’s monitor displays what the UAV sees, the recording format is 4K. The problem is that the flight time is only half an hour. Part of it can be solved with a few spare batteries. 

The RQ-11B Raven flies 1.5 times longer than the DJI Mavik at twice the distance. This drone can be equipped with a laser target illumination system. The price is $35,000.

Disadvantages of the analog version: no protection against signal suppression and video interception, as well as a short flight time on a battery charge. Therefore, their main task, reconnaissance of enemy firing positions, is not fulfilled. 

The RQ-20 Puma is an upgraded, waterproof version of the RQ-11B Raven. It flies 2–3 times farther and longer, and is easily repaired in the field. The price is $250,000.

The Switchblade 300 is a kamikaze drone with a color video camera and GPS to identify, track and engage targets. It can be programmed to attack an object by coordinates. The price is 6000 dollars.

Since 2018, AeroVironment has been working on interoperability between the disposable Switchblade and the RQ-20 Puma covert agent. The recon drone sends out the coordinates of the target, and the loitering ammunition attacks. This technology is for layered defense and coordination of the attack of several projectile aircraft. 

Unmanned aerial vehicles, which are described in the article, are involved at the level of platoons, divisions and individual soldiers, so thousands of them will be needed.

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