Ukrainian volunteers in Lviv are seeking to increase production of FPV drones, thousands of which are used on the frontline every day, through workshops to teach more locals how to assemble them and stimulate the creation of new production equipment.

Although various types of drones have been important in the defense against the Russian invasion since their inception in recent months, this particular type of drone, FPV, has become irreplaceable on the battlefield, Yuriy Kovalchuk, a civilian volunteer, told Efe. .

Before a packed room, Kovalchuk and his fellow volunteers teach a dozen people how to assemble their first FPV drones.

Each participant in the workshop has in front of him a set of spare parts, including frame components, small motors and cables. They assemble them slowly and carefully while an instructor, Oksana, gives them instructions.

“These are completely civilian drones used to film sporting events and were initially considered a toy by the military,” Kovalchuk explains.

An FPV drone is guided by an operator, wearing goggles, who directs it based on the view it receives from the attached camera. In the military, each drone is used only once and has an explosive attached, which detonates upon impact with a target.

These drones, which cost between $350 and $500, can travel at speeds of up to 100 km/hour and are used to destroy equipment worth millions, such as tanks, artillery systems or radars. They are capable of flying kilometers behind front-line positions and therefore become indispensable in the absence of sufficient quantities of artillery shells.

Since each brigade uses between 50 and 70 drones a day, it is vitally important to quickly increase production, Kovalchuk emphasizes.

While Ukraine may have initially had an advantage over Russia, its enemy has since caught up, he says. Russia has been able to make large purchases of components from China and has launched centralized production initiatives.

Kovalchuk’s volunteer community has grown naturally from employees of various companies pooling their resources.

Each month they produce around 100 drones and each volunteer focuses on the specific part of the assembly process they can best perform.

However, Kovalchuk has more hopes for spreading knowledge through workshops so that other companies and volunteers can start their own production efforts.

“I am here because I want to contribute to our defense. The use of FPV drones is what makes this war unique and it is important to help our guys receive as many as possible,” says Roman Malachivskyi.

Some instructions are available online, including a drone assembly course on the Ukrainian e-learning platform “Prometheus,” Sofia Melnichuk, a volunteer, explains to Efe.

However, he says that working quickly and efficiently requires practice and guidance.

Organizers hope to unlock the potential of the city’s many universities, attracting more students to drone assembly. However, funding shortages remain an obstacle and state requests are expected to increase.

More capable engineers are also needed, a shortage of which is felt after years of underinvestment in their training, Kovalchuk says.

The drone war between Ukraine and Russia means that constant adjustments are being made to make FPV drones more effective.

Special attention is paid to countering the highly developed means of radio-electronic warfare that both sides, especially Russia, use to disable drones before they can cause damage.

For now, at least a dozen new drones will be ready after the workshop to be tested before being delivered to the front, Kovalchuk says.

Some will take time to become operational but their production represents the first effort of their creators. It’s still better than nothing, with every new volunteer and every drone produced capable of saving lives on the frontline.