Who is in the forest, who is in the drone – Kommersant Newspaper No. 104 (7305) of 15/06/2022

Prices for commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in Russia have risen more than 30% in recent months and in some categories – tripled, market participants told Kommersant. This is due both to the cessation of sales of Chinese DJI drones in the Russian Federation and, according to military experts, to private purchases for the needs of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR). At the same time, drones sold at retail are only suitable for video recording, Russian retailers say.

Kommersant asked UAV market participants about their availability in Russia and price dynamics. On average, the cost of UAVs since February, when the Russian Federation began hostilities in Ukraine, has risen similarly to the prices of electronics – by 30% or more, a source told Kommersant in a major market. He also talks about the shortage, linking the situation with the decision of the Chinese DJI, which holds 90% of the market for “consumer” drones, to stop deliveries to Russia: “Judging by the market, demand has increased and they bought the always. In March, average dollar prices for UAVs increased by 47% compared to March 2021, a Kommersant source told one of the retailers.

After DJI stopped shipments, prices for business unmanned aerial vehicles (for the oil and gas and energy industries, search and rescue, etc.) in Russia tripled – both compared to the old and for Nikolai Ryashin, CEO of droneports development company Hive, says: “What used to cost about 1 million rubles now sells for more than 3 million rubles.” . He noted that the structure of the brands and the variety of the drone market in Russia has not changed yet.

By the end of the year, according to Mr Ryashin, we can also expect problems with depleted battery life: by air.” SberMegaMarket, M.Video and Yandex.Market declined to comment. In “Avito”, “Yulya”, “Citilink”, the Ministry of Industry and Trade did not respond to “Kommersant”.

DJI announced the cessation of sales of its drones in Russia and Ukraine in April, according to the company, to eliminate their use in battle. The decision comes a month after Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Fedorov accused the manufacturer of giving Russia access to AeroScope drone location data.

DJI denied the allegations in Kiev, but after the suspension of operations in the Russian Federation, confirmed to The Verge that the drones transmit AeroScope data in unencrypted form.

The shortage of helicopters has been facilitated by private initiatives to purchase supplies for the DPR and LPR, says Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Center for Strategy and Technology Analysis. The devices, according to him, are shipped along with other equipment, the request of which comes from Donbass, from optical sights to shoes. Commercial drones are “much more affordable than those produced by the military-industrial complex, they can be bought in bulk,” the expert explained.

Commercial drones are also needed by the Ukrainian army. The Ukrainian Armed Forces use more than 6,000 commercial unmanned aerial vehicles, mainly made in China, DroneUA founder Valeriy Yakovenko said in May. In April, the Ukrainian unit Aerorazvedka demonstrated the firing of anti-tank grenades by octopuses – so a 3D printed tail was attached to the grenades. CEOs of companies providing cloud services and drone updates “make decisions every day with military implications,” the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said in May.

The drone models available on the Russian market are only suitable for video recording, for other purposes – for example, logistics or riot control – can not be used, a Kommersant source at the retailer claims: “They do not have sufficient payload, flight range, battery capacity “. He clarified that some drones can not be transported to Russia due to the lack of a license to use certain radio frequencies.

Yuri Litvinenko, Nikita Korolev

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