Ukraine Opens Russian Drone, Finds Canon DSLR Inside

    Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has released a video in which a Ukrainian soldier disassembles a Russian military surveillance drone. The waterdrop display reveals a remarkably rudimentary design typical of a low-end Canon DSLR at its core.

    The 2-minute video was released by ArmyInform, the information agency of the Ukrainian defense ministry. It shows a soldier sitting next to a Russian Orlan-10 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that crashed in Ukraine.

    The soldier notes that the military drone is surprisingly low-tech – observers are quick to point out that some aspects of it are reminiscent of an RC plane project by people with hobby rather than a high-tech piece of military espionage technology.

    A consumer camera, bottle cap and tube tape

    What the soldier found as the primary camera responsible for the photography was the Canon EOS Rebel T6i (AKA 750D), a DSLR that launched in 2015 with a retail price of $750 but is now worth around $300 to $400 on the used market.

    Canon DSLR camera attached to a plate.

    The camera is attached to the board by a hook-and-loop fastener (commonly known as Velcro).

    The camera is held in place by a Velcro strip.

    The camera’s mode dial has been frozen with glue, preventing the camera’s shooting modes from accidentally being switched on the fly.

    On top of the drone, the fuel tank cap suggests it could be made from some kind of plastic water bottle. The different parts of the drone are also fixed together with some kind of tape.

    Plastic cap on the fuel tank of the drone.

    An expensive piece of ‘primitive’ technology

    Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reported in 2017 after the downing of an Orlan-10 drone (Russian: Орлан-10) priced between $87,000 and $120,000 each.

    A soldier inspects an Orlan-10 on a launch pad during a training exercise. Photo by and licensed under CC BY 4.0.

    “Orlan-10 is developed by Russia-based Special Technology Center Co., Ltd.,” wrote UNIAN. “The case and motor are made in Russia, its electronic components come from Taiwan.

    “Russia often uses this model in the Donbas to scout and adjust artillery fire.”

    It seems that some of the electronic components in the drone also come from Japan. Canon Europe announced in March that it was suspending new shipments of products into Russia in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, but it doesn’t appear that the move will affect sales. whether Russia will continue to use Canon cameras in its future drones.

    Image credits: Video and still frames of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

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