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Ukrainian Forces Captures first Latest-Generation Russian Eleron T-16 UAV

Ukraine successfully captured the latest Russian reconnaissance drone, the Eleron T-16 UAV, renowned for its all-weather reconnaissance capabilities, for the first time. This information was revealed by the DPSUkr Telegram account on August 9, 2023. The unit responsible for this capture is the Stalevyi cordon unit located in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine.
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First-Ever Capture, Ukrainian forces neutralize latest-generation russian Eleron T-16 UAV. (Picture source: Ukraine MoD)

The T-16 drone belongs to the Eleron drone family, developed a few years ago by the Russian company ENICS. While detailed technical specifications are not fully disclosed, it is known that the drone can carry payloads of up to 6 kg and has a takeoff weight of approximately 20 kg. The Eleron T-16 UAV is suitable for reconnaissance and surveillance missions, as well as for artillery correction and neutralizing enemy electronic equipment. It is also capable of operating in various weather conditions.

In 2017, preliminary exercises were conducted for the new T-16 drone equipped with armaments, including special aerial attack devices placed on external mounts under the wing consoles, which have a V-shaped configuration. The wing is arrow-shaped with protrusions along the leading edge and downward-pointing tips, as well as two vertical stabilizers. A silent electric motor, powered by batteries or fuel cells, propels the drone.

The development of the drone family by ENICS has undergone an intriguing evolution. Initially designed for civilian purposes such as monitoring pipelines and power lines, these drones evolved into more advanced models. In 2012, the Russian military acquired the Eleron-3 and its larger counterpart, the Eleron-10 UAV. The improved Eleron-3SW followed. Production initially faced challenges but eventually increased. The latest addition to this drone family is the Eleron T-16, showcasing continuous evolution.

Over the past decade, we have witnessed a shift in approach regarding the integration of weapons into drones. While previously, armaments were primarily intended for larger MALE-class drones, there has been a transition to integrating weapons onto tactical-class and even small drones. These drones have played a significant role in conflicts, being deployed by the Russian military in the Russo-Ukrainian War and the Syrian Civil War. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, their reconnaissance role evolved over time, even to this day.

However, these drones have also faced countermeasures. The Eleron-3 was shot down during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine using electronic warfare devices such as the EDM4S.

First Ever Capture Ukrainian Forces Neutralize Latest Generation Russian Eleron T16 UAV 925 002

        Ukrainian soldiers with Lithuanian EDM4S-UA C-UAS systems. (Picture source: @RALee85)

The EDM4S SkyWiper (Electronic Drone Mitigation 4 - System) is a portable electronic warfare anti-drone device developed by the Lithuanian company NT Service. Designed to disrupt small and medium-sized UAVs by jamming their communication and satellite navigation systems using an electromagnetic pulse, this device plays a crucial role in neutralizing unauthorized aerial threats.

Its ergonomic design, resembling a rifle with a trigger to activate the device and optics for aiming, makes it a user-friendly tool for operators. Weighing 5.5 kg and measuring approximately 1050 × 220 × 360 mm, it is easily transportable by a single person. Powered by a 24 V battery, it can operate for about 60 minutes.

This device has found a vital utility on modern battlefields, especially in the context of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict. Since its initial use by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the Donbas region, it has become a valuable asset in defense against drones, contributing to disabling enemy UAVs and protecting sensitive areas from unauthorized aerial intrusions. Ukraine continues to actively utilize this technology during the ongoing war, which began in 2014 in the eastern part of the country.

In addition to the EDM4S SkyWiper, other similar anti-drone weapons have also been developed and used in various regions around the world. These include Boeing's Laser Avenger system, DARPA's ATHENA project, General Atomics' SkyGuardian Laser System, and China's ZKZM-500 Laser Assault Rifle. These technologies reflect the ongoing effort to counter emerging aerial threats using innovative and specialized solutions. It is possible that one of these variants was used to neutralize the Encis T-16 UAV.

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