Russian troops are failing to detect Ukrainian strikes under the cover of darkness
Russian forces in Ukraine are falling victim to things that go bang in the night. There have been several accounts of Aerorozvidka, a tactical drone unit in Ukraine’s army with the Latin motto “Non dormies” (You will not sleep), striking Russian units under the cover of darkness. Small drones equipped with thermal imagers are able to locate Russian vehicles from their heat signals—engines are often kept running in freezing conditions—and bomb them with Soviet-era anti-tank grenades. Videos of such attacks suggest the Russians are unable to detect them. But modern armies have long used night-vision technology. Why is Russia’s invasion force struggling to see in the dark?
The first military night-vision systems, from the second world war, used infra-red searchlights whose sweep could be seen only by special detectors. These worked well unless the enemy also had infra-red sensors, in which case the user stood out like a beacon. Modern armies have two types of night-vision gear that avoid this problem. Thermal imagers, as used by Aerorozvidka, detect the infra-red radiation given off by warm objects and display it using bright colours. Others use a device called a photomultiplier to turn light into electrical signals, in effect amplifying what little light is available. These turn the world an eerie monochrome green.
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- Come Back Alive is one of the largest charitable foundations that supports Ukrainian soldiers, founded by the IT specialist Vitaliy Deynega. The organization collected more than 210 million UAH (more than $7M) in 2014. According to Na chasi, the Patreon page Come Back Alive is in the top ten projects by the number of financial donations.
- Army SOS, which develops drones;
- Everybody Can, an organization that supports internally displaced people;
- Help on the Ministry of Defense website.