Ukrainians use mobile app to monitor Russian drone attacks | Ukraine
Ukrainian volunteers have developed a simple mobile phone app to allow civilians to report sightings of Russian drones and missiles – and hopefully, get them down before they hit the ground.
The app, ePPO, is based on the phone’s GPS and compass, and the user only has to point their devices in the direction of the incoming object and press a single button to send a location report to the country’s military.
Gennady Suleiman, one of those behind the project, said the goal was to recruit “the entire population” to help detect upcoming attacks in what he described as an example of “web-centric warfare”.
Ukraine has been subjected to months of deadly long-range missile strikes, but attacks have escalated in the past month as Russia has launched hundreds of cheap missiles, Iranian-made Shahed-136 . drones In cities and in the infrastructure of Ukraine.
Restrictions on Ukraine’s air defenses have led to the arrival of a minority of distinctive delta-wing UAVs. Five civilians were killed when the middle Kyiv was bombed Two weeks ago on that day 28 drones were launched in the capital, and five aircraft exploded near the main train station.
The Shahed-136 drones present a challenge to conventional radar to detect because their initial flight path is often low, perhaps 30 meters above the ground, and their small size means they have a modest detection footprint. As they approached their targets, their height increased before sinking into the ground with a terrifying effect.
Drones have been particularly effective in The bombing of power plants and the Ukrainian power gridcausing blackouts in Kyiv and elsewhere, and prompting politicians and the military to scramble to find ways to stop them.
Typically, drones are set in their path to fly over remote areas, rivers, or other bodies of water, and are often launched at night. The attacks on Kyiv were launched from neighboring Belarus, with drones flying low over the reservoir of the Dnipro River that runs from the border to the north of the capital.
However, the team behind the app believes that the drones’ relatively slow cruising speed, around 110 mph, and distinctive motorcycle or lawn mower engine noise means they are easy to detect from the ground. Solomon said: “It is their Achilles’ heel.” “Once these low-flying objects are detected, they are easy to intercept.”
Samuel Bendet, a drone expert and consultant to the US CNA Military Research Center, agreed that the Shahid drones were “relatively loud and have a distinctive sound in flight”, and that the application could be useful as part of Ukraine’s defense layers. “Every bit of the data can help determine the origin and trajectory of the attack,” he said.
However, for all technological novelties, the application simulates previous general air defense systems. During the Battle of Britain, the Royal Observer Corps, a network of volunteers, worked closely with the Royal Air Force to identify German aircraft flying over the United Kingdom.
The British coastal radar system encountered offshore, which meant that the 30,000-strong observer network was crucial to locating the enemy inland.
Toward the end of the war, the focus shifted to identifying the next German V1 and V2 missiles.
So far, the app has had little publicity in Ukraine, but it has nevertheless been downloaded 180,000 times by word of mouth. Its developers acknowledge that it took five months of testing and working with military and government officials to develop it.
Suleiman said the app has already helped spot previously undetected drones and Kalibr missiles on a few occasions, but said he could not provide an exact number for security reasons. The app’s promoter said senior air defense officers “didn’t expect it to be this efficient”.
For security reasons, the ePPO app only works in tandem with the government’s Diia app that allows adult Ukrainians to store their ID card, driver’s license and other official documents on their phones. This means that it cannot, in theory, be used by non-nationals.
The app has been around for about three weeks, although it’s only available on Google Android phones, while approval from Apple is expected within days. It only takes a few minutes to set up, and requires a download and confirmation from Diia, with a finger or a thumbprint.
Andrii Kosiak, an electronics supplier also involved in the development program, said he hoped people working in remote locations – “fishermen, railway workers” – would download the app, though it’s not clear that rural residents use Diia, which It is taken up by about a third of the adult population.
Justin Pronk, an aviation analyst at a Russian think tank, said Ukraine does not have the equipment to continuously monitor its low-level airspace. “Updates from monitors will help the air defense network in planning the trajectory of missile strikes and loitering munitions, alerting air defense units along their path and adapting air raid warnings,” he said.
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