How to Buy Drones for Ukraine’s Military

Purpose of this document

This guide has been created to assist the purchase, modification and delivery of drones to Ukraine’s military. It’s written from the perspective of a civilian, US-based purchaser but should  be applicable to purchasing drones anywhere.  

There are 3 main uses of drones in Ukraine: recon, bombers and kamikaze. The first two uses are typically commercial drones, typically manufactured by industry-leader DJI.  Kamikaze/FPV drones are typically homemade by small factories in Ukraine.

Types of drones used by the Ukrainian military

Overall, drones can be separated into two types: Large, expensive drones typically provided by  governments and militaries. This category includes all fixed-wing drones and those with built-in  weapons-delivery systems. This guide does not discuss or concern itself with these types of  drones, as they are typically inaccessible to most civilian purchasers. 

Of the remaining, civilian types of quadcopter drones, they can be broken down into two main types: Commercial and First Person View (FPV). This document will focus on commercial drones manufactured by the DJI company, as they are cheapest and most useful for the  majority of Ukrainian military units.

Major commercial DJI drone models

DJI Mini 2

Smallest and cheapest commercial drone. Suitable for short-range reconnaissance. A quiet drone with a real life flight time of 20-25 minutes, zoom is 4x. Radio signal is good, but not as good as the Air 2S and Mavic 3. This drone can’t carry a grenade. 

  • Extremely affordable 
  • Legal to fly without a drone pilot part 107 license 
  • Small size / very light: 249g/0.5 lb 
  • Good for flying a couple kilometers away from where you are 
  • Good for infantry: check your position and how it’s camouflaged 
  • Can help correct an mortar and grenade launchers fire 
  • Mini 2 Fly More Combo: Used $360, New $600 
  • Make sure it is not Mini 2 SE, Mini SE or Mini 

DJI Air 2, DJI Air 2S

Medium sized and cost commercial drone. Suitable for 2 km (Air 2) and 3 km (Air 2S) – range reconnaissance and light bombing missions. Has a real life flight time of 20-25 minutes, zoom is 4X (Air 2) and 8x (Air 2S). Radio signal is same as Mini 2 (Air 2), better in Air 2S. The drone can carry 1 bomblet up to 300-400 gram

  • Air 2S:
  • Air 2S fly more combo $1250:
  • Air 2 only Used ~ price starts from $420-$430 for Fly More Combo 

DJI Mavic 3 & DJI Mavic 3 Fly More Combo

Larger drone with longer flight time, payload and recon capabilities. The DJI Mavic 3 is the most popular consumer drone in Ukraine. The real life flight time is 30-35 minutes, zoom is 28x for all Mavic 3s except Mavic 3 Classic (that has almost no zoom, 3X). The radio signal range is very reliable. The drone can carry up to 2 grenades, but please don’t use it as a bomber. They are much more useful for recon missions 

  • Mavic 3 Fly More Combo $3000:

DJI Mavic 3T (Thermal)

The DJI Mavic 3T is similar to the DJI Mavic 3 but it also has a thermal camera. This drone can see in the darkness. Unlike the standard Mavic 3, RemoteID can’t be disabled. There are solutions available such as spoofer boards to deal with this. 

  • DJI Mavic 3T Worry-Free Basic Combo $5500
  • DJI Mavic 3T Worry-Free Plus Combo $7500
    • Because drones in Ukraine lose warranty

Details on Types of Drones

Name Use Details Fly More Combo CostVariants
DJI Mini/Mini 2Short range recon

– (daytime) Short range < 5 km 

– Recon 4X Zoom 

– Fire correction for light mortars, grenade  launchers 

– Platoon situational awareness 

– Own Camouflage verification 

– 720p live stream

$400 (used, unavailable new)


* Mini 2 


* Mini 

* Mini SE 

* Mini 2 SE 

DJI Mini 3 ProDaytime short range recon

– (daytime) Short range < 5 km 

– Better Recon 4X Zoom 

– Fire correction for light mortars and grenade  launchers 

– Platoon situational awareness 

– Own Camouflage verification 

– 1080p live stream 

With special batteries can fly 1.5 times longer  than Mini 2 

S: I would not recommend Mini 3 Pro. It is unclear if it can be anonymized.

A Dutch sniper has Mini 3 Pro that he cant use for this reason.

$8000 (new)


* Mini 3


* Mini 3 Pro

DJI Air 2/3 Daytime short range recon

– (daytime) Short range < 5 km 

– bombing (1 bomblet) 

– Recon 4X Zoom 

– Fire correction for light mortars, grenade  launchers 

– Platoon situational awareness 

– Own Camouflage verification 

– 1080p/720p live stream

$450 (used, unavailable new)


* Air 2 


* Air 3 (YET)

DJI Air 2S

Daytime short range

recon & bombing

– (daytime) Short range < 6 km 

– bombing (1 bomblet) 

– Better Recon 8X Zoom 

– Fire correction for mortars, artillery, grenade  launchers 

– Platoon situational awareness 

– Own Camouflage verification 

– 1080p live streaming

$1250 (new) 

$700 (used)


* Air 2S 

DJI Mavic 3Daytime medium range/recon

– (daytime) Short range < 8 km 

– Better bombing (2 bomblets) 

– Mavic 3 Great Recon 28X Zoom 

– Mavic 3 Classic BAD Recon 3X Zoom – Fire correction for heavy mortars, tube artillery

– Company / Battalion situational awareness – 1080p live streaming 

– Can bomb with but wasteful to do so 

S: Mavic 3 classic and Mavic 3 Pro cant be anonymized yet. 

$3000 (new) 

$1800 (used)


* Mavic 3 


* Mavic 3 Classic

* Mavic 3 Pro

* Mavic 3 CINE

See below for details

DJI Mavic 3T/3EDay & night medium range recon 

– (day and night) Short range < 8 km 

– 3T (Thermal), 3E (No Thermal)

– Mavic 3T Excellent Recon 56X Zoom  – Thermal camera 640×512 

– Fire correction for heavy mortars, tube artillery – Company / Battalion situational awareness – 1080p live streaming 

– Can bomb with but wasteful to do so

$5500-7500 (new)


* Mavic 3T 


* Mavic 3E

(too expensive, no thermal)

See below for details

DJI Matrice 30T/30EDay & night medium range recon 

– (day and night) Short range < 8 km 

– Matrice 30T Awesome Recon 200X Zoom  – Thermal camera 640×512 

– Fire correction for heavy mortars, tube artillery,  MLRS 

– Company / Battalion situational awareness – 1080p live streaming 

– Can bomb with but wasteful to do so

$10000 (new) 

~$8000 (used)


* Matrice 30T 


* Matrice 30E 

(too expensive, no thermal)

See below for details

DJI Matrice 300 RTK  + H20T Zenmuse cameraDay & night medium range recon 

– (day and night) Medium range < 10 km 

– Matrice 300T Awesome Recon 200X Zoom  – Thermal camera 640×512 

– Fire correction for tube artillery, MLRS – Company / Battalion situational awareness – 1080p live streaming 

– Bombing (2 bomblets), but wasteful to do so

$19000 (new) 

$10000 (used)


* Matrice 300  RTK + Zenmuse H20T

Homemade 3D printedDay FPV(daytime)$400- 500 
Homemade 3D printedNighttime FPV(night time) $600- 800 



  • DJI is generally agreed to be the best manufacturer for commercial drones. This type for infantry units to conduct recon use of the drone. 
  • Mavic 3s are most commonly requested but not necessarily best. Certainly not the cheapest.
  • We recommend buying DJI drones as “Fly More Combo,” or buy extra batteries and make sure the drone has a charger hub. 
  • Max flying distance 30 km is unrealistic in practice. Mavic 3 range is 6-8 km. Longer range requires double batteries and significantly increases chances of losing the drone. 

DJI drones to avoid 

DJI Mini 3RemoteID cannot be disabled
DJI Mini 3 ProRemoteID cannot be disabled
DJI Mini 2 SEPoor signal range
DJI Mavic 3 SEExpensive, no nighttime capability
DJI Mavic 3 ClassicRemoteID cannot be disabled, too expensive as a bomber
DJI Mavic 3 CINEToo expensive for recon/fire correction
DJI Mavic 3 ProRemoteID cannot be disabled
Matric 30EToo expensive, no nighttime capability

Future considerations 

Availability of new Mavic 3, Air 2S and Mini 2 will be limited in the near future because they are replaced by newer drones. But still these are the drones to get because they are customizable with improved signal range, no fly zone removal, and (most importantly) RemoteID can be disabled so they are not visible by the drone detection system “DJI Aeroscope”. 

More and more units are requesting custom-made FPV drones rather than off-the shelf commercial (typically DJI) drones. Contact us if a unit you support needs FPV drones. 

FPV Kamikaze drones 

“FPV” refers to “First Person View”, meaning the operator of the drone uses FPV goggles to get a first person view from the drone. These drones are typically cheaper, custom-made and used for kamikaze suicide missions to deliver explosives to a tank or bunker. 

  • Extremely useful. Manufactured in Ukraine and everywhere in the world including Russia and China. 
  • Typical role: kamikaze drone destroying armor, weapons, personnel in range of 10-15  km. 
  • Carries 1-2 kg warhead up to 10-15 km. 
  • Typical cost of a single FPV drone is $300-600. Up to $600 for the best long-haulers. Video signal is analogue, as opposed to the usual digital. FPV drones with digital video signal may cost a tiny bit more. 
  • Ukraine needs 100,000+ per month

Most popular and well known Ukraine FPV drone manufacturers are TORO and Escadrone.

Each unit uses particular FPV drones and unlike DJI drones they have more differences. It is not recommended to purchase FPV drones in a shop before making sure that particular unit uses exactly that type of drones.



FPV drone manufacturing workshop in Ukraine 

How to know which kind of drone to buy 

Key is to supply the right kind of drone to the right unit. A Mini drone is not right for bombing, there is no sense in supplying an expensive Mavic 3 for short-range recon missions, and none of these DJI drones are appropriate for suicide Kamikaze/FPV missions. Critical to ask the unit which type of drone they need. 


We’ve developed a questionnaire that we send units. Contact us for the Ukrainian-language version of this questionnaire.

In order to properly provide the correct drone type to the requesting Ukrainian military unit, we need basic information about the unit and the intended use of the drone. 

  • On which direction (military front) does the unit operate? 
  • Is the drone needed on the front line (“zero-line”)? Or is it anticipated to go to the front line soon? Or is the drone needed behind the front line? Maybe for pilots training? Or for pilots training and then for the frontline? 
  • Which drone training did pilots went through? Did they receive a certificate? If they haven’t, are there experienced pilots nearby who committed to train new pilots and make sure they will fly safely? 
  • Which drones have pilots worked with? 
  • What are typical planned missions for this drone? 
  • What are typical ranges of mentioned missions? In other words, how far the drone needs to fly from RC? 
  • What kind of antennas are you using if any? 
  • Which drones are needed and how many batteries per drone are needed? How urgent is the need? 

Additional purchase considerations 

Ukrainian soldiers attaching RPG warhead to a FPV drone
  • How much Zoom is needed 
  • Motion-correction needed for fast flying? 
  • Flying in the wind? Rain? Snow?

Drone Jamming (C-UAS) 

C-UAV/C-UAS (Counter-Unmanned Aerial Vehicle/System) weapons, also known as ECM (Electronics Countermeasure) weapons are beyond the scope of this document. Be aware that they exist and are a constant concern for drone operators. The Russians have plentiful and powerful ECM assets. To help foil this, it is important to anonymize, reprogram and signal-boost drones before delivery to the unit. Contact us for more information or a list of drone jamming manufacturers. 

Drone Components 


Gimbaled cameras 

All recon drones have cameras mounted on motion-stabilized gimbals. This allows them to take clear video while on flight. Whereas FPV racing drones (typically used for kamikaze or suicide missions) use cameras fixed to the drone, to be inexpensive. 

Optical vs digital zoom 

Zoom is critical for drones as it allows them to safely stay far back and still see the action 

Night vision 

We don’t know of any drones using regular night vision like a PVS-14 monocle. Instead, all night vision-enabled drones seem to be equipped with thermal vision, which is better. 

Thermal optics 

Thermal cameras detect IR radiation (heat) from the ground. This allows them to sense humans or running vehicles very effectively, especially during night time or winter. This is a very efficient way to detect soldiers storming your position or to correct artillery fire. Most importantly this  optic allows using the drone at night or to spot soldiers using camouflage.


  • Drones are typically cheaper in the US so bought here then flown to Poland, then  transported to a Ukrainian city where the drones are improved (anonymized and signal boosted), then sent via Nova Posta or driven by a volunteer to the actual unit. 
  • Best to contact us first, so that you can buy the right drone and have it sent directly to  the reprogramming center 
  • Best to buy new on Amazon or eBay. If buying on eBay, best to coordinate with us to not compete bidding. 
  • With all DJI drones, try to buy the “Fly More Combo” for cheaper deals on essential  accessories and extra batteries. It typically consists of 2 extra batteries, 6 extra  propellers, a charging hub and a bag 
  • Once bought, have the drone sent to be reprogrammed here in US, Ukraine or Poland. Once reprogrammed, the drone should be delivered to the recipient military unit in  Ukraine by a trustworthy courier who will ensure it’s properly delivered and that any  needed receipt paperwork or photos are collected. 
NOTE: Do not attempt to send drones via Meest to Ukraine! US Customs has recently been stopping the shipment of drones, presumably because of the batteries which are a fire hazard. This has been experienced on the West coast of the USA. East coast customs may be more  understanding.

Buying used 

There are great deals on drones, especially ones slightly damaged. But please coordinate with us before bidding so we do not compete! 

Sometimes used models are actually better than new as the newer ones can be harder to reprogram. 

  • Drone range is throttled down in Europe. Drones can have 4x the range in the US than  in Europe, due to stricter regulations in the EU. There are ways to deactivate this and  activate “Signal Boost Mode” in Ukraine. 


  • Amazon
  • Costco (good prices, limited selection)
  • eBay
  • Craigslist
  • OfferUp
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Forums
  • Pawn shops
In Europe 
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Forums
  • Marketplaats (NL)
In Ukraine 
  • All of the above. Contact us for couriers/shipping options
  • Dedicated drone shops (but prices will be higher)



Many of the cases provided with the drones are not ideal. Important to find a hard-sided and waterproof case, with good shoulder strap. Many drone operators keep the drones in the original packaging. Add foam to lightweight bags for additional impact padding. 


Some special forces drone units have 30 batteries per drone because they fly nonstop. For normal units we suggest supplying 4-6 batteries. 

External antennas boost signal and allow drone pilots to fly from shelter

External antennas 

External antennas are very important for several reasons. Most importantly, it allows the operator to safely stay under cover while piloting. Since the enemy can easily radio-triangulate the signal coming from the drone controller, this is critical to keep the operator alive. The antenna also allows for a stronger signal, allowing the drone to travel farther and reduces (but doesn’t remove) the risk of jamming.


Learning how to fly drones in a combat environment is very different from drone piloting for fun or a civilian job. Teaching this critical skill is beyond the scope of this document. Contact us for  a list of resources and flight schools. 


How to buy drones on eBay

    (Ukrainian language. Turn on auto generated English captions)