Ukrainian forces to receive hundreds of Teal 2 drones this month

Ukrainian forces to receive hundreds of drones this month

Ukrainian forces have already been using drones in their fight against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but their fleet is about to get much larger.

Puerto Rico-based military drone and technology giant Red Cat is set to fulfill a purchase order this month consisting of 200 long-range, high-speed FPV (first-person view) drones to Ukrainian drone pilots engaged in conflict with Russia. 

Due to sensitivities, Red Cat is not publicly naming the drone model that they’re sending to Ukrainian forces.

The FPV drones that Red Cat is set to deliver to Ukrainian forces in June have what Red Cat claims to be the highest power-to-weight ratio in the drone industry, offering increased maneuverability, especially when combined with the FPV functionality of the drones. The company also says its FPV drones can fly in GPS-denied and GPS-jammed battlefield conditions.

Red Cat is the company behind drones including the Teal 2, produced by Utah-based Teal (Teal is owned by Red Cat). Red Cat just last month officially launched its military-grade Teal 2 sUAS for public availability. The Teal 2 drone’s key differentiator is nighttime operations, a feature that’s especially-crucial for military operations.

“The latest drone technology can give Ukrainian forces a serious tactical advantage,” said Red Cat CEO Jeff Thompson. “In addition to this order for 200 units of an FPV drone, Red Cat stands ready to fill any Ukrainian-deployment orders we might receive for our new military-grade sUAS, the Teal 2. Red Cat’s U.S. factory has the production capacity to promptly fill Teal 2 orders for foreign as well as domestic customers.”

Photo courtesy of Draganfly.

Russian and Ukrainian forces use of drones

This is far from the first time Ukrainian forces have had access to drones, including those from Red Cat. Teal supplied 15 Golden Eagle drone units, plus spares and training to an unspecified NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) member country in 2022, which said it would use them for deployment in Ukraine.

And it’s not just Red Cat and its subsidiaries. Also in April 2022, Canada-based Draganfly shipped some of its products to a Ukraine charity called Revived Soldiers Ukraine (RSU). Though, those drones were not used for battle, but rather to deliver medical products including insulin, blood, pharmaceuticals and wound care kits to hard-to-reach hospitals in Ukraine.

As far as drones in battle, Ukrainian officials last year asked the United States for “strike drones” with “appropriate munitions” like the AGM-114 Hellfire missile, according to Politico. And Politico reported that the Pentagon had already sent Ukraine multiple drones including the Phoenix Ghost and the small, expendable Switchblade drones.

Drone use in both sides of the conflict has been contentious. In 2022, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov wrote an open letter shared on Twitter to DJI founder and CEO Frank Wang, claiming that Russian troops were using DJI products in order to navigate missile attacks. That letter asked the company to stop doing business in Russia.

Around that time, DJI issued a separate statement firmly stating that DJI opposes military use of its products. And in fact by late April 2022, DJI finally opted to temporarily suspend all business activities in both Russia and Ukraine.

Teal 2 offers American made, military-grade drone for night flights
Red Cat’s Teal 2 drone, designed for military nighttime operations. Photo courtesy of Red Cat.

What to know about Teal 2 drone

Red Cat and Teal are heavily touting Teal 2’s nighttime flight capabilities, marketing the drone with the slogan “Dominate the Night.” (Note that the 200 drones being sent to Ukraine are not the Teal 2.) 

A big reason why the drone does work so well at night is because it’s equipped with Teledyne FLIR’s new Hadron 640R sensor, which is optimized for nighttime operations and offers end-users high resolution thermal imaging in a small (Group 1) form factor. It also incorporates fancy tech from companies including Athena AIReveal Technology, and Tomahawk Robotics

Some other key specs of the Teal 2:

  • Super small with a compact, rugged design that is designed to be portable in just a backpack
  • Weight: 2.75 lbs.
  • Flight time: at least 30 minute
  • Maximum flight speed: 23 mph
  • Range from controller: 5 km

The U.S.-made Teal 2 drone system is manufactured at Red Cat’s purpose-built factory in Salt Lake City, Utah. And the drone is also certified as “Blue UAS,” which is a designation given to manufacturers who are deemed authorized to provide equipment to the U.S. military. Teal is also one of only three drone manufacturers invited to participate in the U.S. Army’s Short Range Reconnaissance Tranche 2 (SRR T2), which was created to find companies that can deliver a portable drone usable within army platoons for surveillance and reconnaissance.

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