AirRecon is a Ukrainian combat unit, which monitors enemy forces by means of drones and video monitoring systems. Three volunteers created the unit: Yaroslav Gonchar, Volodymyr Kochetkov-Sukach, and Nathan Khazin. Actually they launched the “air reconnaissance” term in Ukrainian language, as, until recently, the only common term was “air photo shooting”.
Ukrainian AirRecon system complies with C4ISR NATO units, and Ukrainian army is, in fact, the fourth army in the world using such system. US, UK and Israeli armies, too, have similar combat units. AirRecon displays up to three quaters of the front area 24/7 by means of video cameras interacting within the system, therefore maximizing the efficiency of military operations, primarily artillery.
Nathan Khazin, former head of Maidan’s Jewish Unit and member of the first group of Azov battalion, is currently one of the leaders of AirRecon unit. He began his search for the new opportunities to supply Ukrainian army with technological equipment at the early stage of Crimean occupation, when the issue was vital.
Nathan turned to Israel for help, but got a refusal, so he contacted his former Maidan comrade, Oleg ***, who was making panoramic photo shoots using DJI Phantom drone. His video called “Ukraine: view from a drone” collected over one million views on YouTube. This particular Phantom, presented to volunteers, was the beginning of AirRecon unit.
Volodymyr Kochetkov (Chubakka) took the drone to Aydar battalion. The battalion, that had been encircled by the enemy for more than two weeks, with no connection to the outside world, welcomed the Phantom warmly.
The initiative group of the future unit was really inspired by the battalion’s feedback. Yaroslav Gonchar, helped by the Krok Computer Academy staff, adapted the system for combat conditions. As a result, the Ukrainian drone’s flight distance has grown from 300 m to 3 km. Air modelling clubs, as well as individual amateurs and businesses, joined in. The system and devices were constantly improved, every improvement immediately tested by the Ukrainian Army and volunteer combat units. AirRecon cooperated successfully with Radion Tymoshenko, General Major of the Ukrainian Army. AirRecon’s military exercises and drone test flights were visited by the President, the Secretary of the National Defense Council, and the Minister of Defense of Ukraine.
AirRecon participated in the defense of Donetsk airport (the famous photoshoots of the destroyed airport published by various media were made by the unit’s drones). There at DAP the unit had to face the Russian radio jamming devices. Having analyzed this sad experience, the initiative group came to the conclusion that, whenever flights were impossible, video cameras had to be used. They turned to their friends engaged in TV production in order to organize live streaming. Oleksiy Mochanov and Yury Birbkov arranged the purchase of several video cameras. Data Group provided satellite connection. This is when AirRecon began live streaming from the front area. Streaming proved to be very efficient: according to certain experts, it was AirRecon that actually stopped the enemy by means of their live streams.
Gradually AirRecon turned into a big project. Shooting was made on various hights, and in various temperature modes; cameras were installed on towers and importants spots under constant fire from the enemy. Four members of the unit, including one of the founders of AirRecon, Volodymyr Kochetkov (Chubakka), were killed in the fighting. Volodymyr was killed in Krasnogorivka, covering the explosive device installed by the enemy with his own body.
AirRecon saved the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers, but, despite its super efficiency, it proved to be somewhat irrelevant with the Ukrainian army realia. The military investigation units do not have the necessary technical expertise. The communication engineers are unable to work with the data. As a result, AirRecon gathered a team of software and hardware developers, formed its own properly prepared combat and defense units, with its own vehicles and technical equipment. The unit has become a brand. It cooperates actively with airborne troops, marines, special forces, expanding rapidly.
Unfortunately, Ukrainian facilities cannot provide the production of all the necessary electronic equipment, therefore AirRecon has to use some equipment produced abroad according to the NATO standards.