A Chinese-made Mugin-5 commercial drone, retrofitted and armed with a bomb weighing about 20kg, has been shot down by the Ukrainians.
The drone, manufactured by Chinese firm Mugin Limited based in the port city of Xiamen, was shot down by AK-47s in the wartorn country over the weekend, CNN reported.
Mugin Limited confirmed to CNN that it was their airframe, calling the incident “deeply unfortunate.”
Some tech bloggers say the machines are known as “Alibaba drones” as they have been available for sale for up to $15,000 on Chinese marketplace websites including Alibaba and Taobao.
Maksim, a 35-year-old territorial defense fighter, told the outlet that the “UAV was flying at very low altitude – close enough to bring it down with hand-held weapons.”
The drone carried a bomb of about 20kg, which the Ukrainian soldiers later detonated.
The munition loaded onto the drone was likely to be a “high explosive fragmentation” design, which was “simple and not very aerodynamic,” said N. R. Jenzen-Jones, an arms and munitions intelligence specialist, and director of the consultancy Armament Research Services.
Jenzen-Jones added that the release mechanism for the bomb appeared to be made with 3D-printed components, which would “suggest that the UAV has been rapidly retrofitted.”
The weaponized Mugin-5 did not have a camera fitted, which means it could not have been used for surveillance, but in a “bomber” role.
Several electronic parts on the drone were sourced from other countries including servos (Taiwan’s MKS company) and sensors on the retrofitted circuit board (Canada’s Novatel).