Ukrainian Fowler interceptor drone to combat Russian Orlan-10 drones


Butkaliuk reported on the news on his Facebook page. He also published the basic tactical-technical parameters – more detailed information is known only to the customer, i.e. the Ukrainian army. The development work was supposed to last two years.

Fowler arrives just in time. The Ukrainian battlefield is flooded with drones, fortunately mostly of the Ukrainian military. But the Russians are also deploying Orlan-10 drones en masse. They are Russia’s main reconnaissance asset on the front line. Drones, whether Ukrainian or Russian, are primarily used for reconnaissance and fire guidance, but they can also attack ground targets. There are dozens of videos on the Internet of drones dropping ammunition on Russian soldiers with fatal consequences.

Along with the boom in drones of all sizes comes the development of means of protection. At the same time, current solutions are very expensive and impractical. Shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) are used against even the smallest drones. There are also various means of electronic warfare, classic cannon and missile air defense systems (AVO) mounted on vehicles and, of course, very promising lasers and microwave weapons. After all, at the AUSA 2022 exhibition, General Dynamics presented the first Leonidas air defense microwave systems on the Stryker chassis.

Public tactical-technical information of the Fowler interceptor drone / Oleksandr Butkaliuk

Also gaining popularity are various interceptor drones that specialize in stopping other drones before they reach their targets. The interceptor drone has considerable power for its weight, so it can gain altitude very quickly, cover a long distance, outmaneuver the enemy drone and disable it permanently.

Interceptor drones stop a target either by direct impact or by using a launch net. The robust design of the interceptor drone will theoretically allow it to survive the impact and attempt to land again. That is, if the drone does not contain a warhead.

Large DroneHunter F700 drones are already operating in Ukraine, stopping enemy drones (including Orlan-10) using launch nets. In 2021, the Lithuanian hacker Aleksey Zaitsevsky introduced a very small and powerful drone, launching from the ground as an anti-aircraft missile and hitting an enemy drone using a net.

In the same year, the Ukrainian start-up Cobra Anti Drone (founder Oleksii Khomich) designed a kamikaze quadcopter with a warhead capable of hitting both an enemy drone and a ground target. Its design is very similar to the Fowler drone – the “Cobra” drone, however, uses folding consoles carrying electric motors with rotors. The Fowler, on the other hand, has four (it seems) fixed aerodynamic surfaces.

At first glance, the Fowler capture drone looks like the most advanced solution. Its shape really resembles an infrared-guided missile, but it is not powered by a rocket engine, but by four small and very powerful electric motors with rotors. However, by its mission and method of use, the Fowler can really be described as an electrically powered surface-to-air “missile”.

The Fowler measures just 0.53 meters in length with a wingspan of 0.42 meters. The starting weight is only 1.5 kilograms. The range is 50 to 1500 meters and the missile can hit targets up to 1000 meters high. At the same time, the target can move at a speed of up to 50 meters per second.

At a distance of 1,500 meters and up to a height of 1,000 meters, Fowler knocks out the Russian Orlan-10 drone, and at a height and distance of 800 meters, small Phantom V quadcopters. These values ​​were certainly chosen based on the experience of the Ukrainian army.

The Fowler is supplied in a transport and discharge container. During the tests, the drone was only equipped with a simple landing gear.

The Fowler is not equipped with a warhead, but destroys the target with a direct hit or using a launch net. When the net is fired, Fowler returns to the starting position. An inexpensive and commercially available optoelectronic sensor operating in the visible and infrared (NIR) spectrum is firmly attached to the missile’s warhead.

The method of guidance was not explained, but a number of options are offered. Apparently, the whole system includes external sensors (radar, optoelectronics), control tablet / mobile, communication systems and some kind of fire control system. Due to its weight and dimensions, drones can certainly be carried both in a backpack and placed on various vehicles.

So far, there is no more detailed information about the entire solution of the Fowler system. The absolutely fundamental question is in what numbers Butkaliuk can produce “shots” Fowler. Because mass production is orders of magnitude more difficult than developing and building a demonstrator/prototype.


The article is in Czech

Tags: Ukrainian Fowler interceptor drone combat Russian Orlan10 drones


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