An app in Ukraine is enabling citizens to take down enemy drones through supplying targeting data to anti-aircraft gunners. The ePPO Observer app is produced by the tech startup Technari in collaboration with the Ukrainian military and has already been downloaded thousands of times.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in Kyiv announced: “Now every citizen of Ukraine can participate in improving the air and missile defence of our skies.”
Volunteers on the app select the type of target and the software geolocates it for the gunners to take down.
The app says: “If you see a missile or an unmanned aerial vehicle, an aeroplane or a helicopter, or you hear an explosion, calmly go to the ePPO Observer application, select the desired category, then point your smartphone in the direction of what you saw or heard and press the big red button.
“By doing this, you will warn the air defence forces about a possible threat and probably save many lives!”
A brief vetting process is required in order to prevent the app being hijacked by Russian saboteurs, said the MoD.
Gennadiy Suldin of NGO Technari told Ukrainian news outlet Censor.net: “We made the air defence system, constantly consulting with the specialists of our air defence, who are in my view the best in the world.
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Thomas Newdick, an air warfare specialist at The War Zone, said of the app: “This sounds very much like a World War Two-style use of civilian observers to spot incoming air raids and then provide supplemental information.
“It could be broadly useful, especially if there was a large incoming formation of drones… air defence units would be able to see fairly rapidly where there is a spike in this data being supplied.”
The Russians have even expressed admiration for the app, with Telegram channel Rybar posting: “There, on the other side, is all the software and hardware capacity to engage civilians and activists to gather information.
“Maybe someday such an approach will be possible in our country as well.”