Images displaying the wreckage of the Merlin-VR unmanned aerial vehicle were tweeted by Ukraine Weapons Tracker on June 17.
The drone is a long-endurance unmanned system for conducting electronic warfare, intelligence gathering, and logistics support.
Its hybrid propulsion system offers a low acoustic signature, but Ukrainian forces were able to detect and neutralize the drone.
With a payload capacity of 6.5 kilograms (14 pounds), the Merlin-VR can fly at an altitude up to five kilometers (3 miles) with an endurance of at least 10 hours.
According to Russian state media, the drone was developed by the Smolensk Research Institute of Modern Telecommunication Technologies and was first introduced to the public in 2021.
#Ukraine: An extremely rare Russian Merlin-VR unmanned aerial vehicle for the first time was shot down by Ukrainian forces. This is one of the most modern Russian reconnaissance drones with a payload of 6.5 kg and capable of flying at an altitude of up to 5 kilometers. pic.twitter.com/4CyllLD1gg
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) June 16, 2022
Winning the Drone Battle
Both Russia and Ukraine have fielded their most advanced surveillance and attack drones during the conflict.
However, reports indicate that Ukraine seems to be winning the drone battle, knocking an increasing number of Russian drones out of the sky.
Forbes said in its report last month that the number of Russia’s Orlan-10 drones deployed in Ukraine is decreasing rapidly due to Kyiv’s sophisticated counter-drone systems.
The Orlan-10s are Russia’s “eyes” for directing high-powered artillery such as the laser-guided Krasnopol rounds.
In three months, Oryx’s database confirmed that around 50 Orlan-10 drones were brought down by Ukrainian forces.