The Ukrainian military shot down a modernized and weaponized Chinese-made Mugin-5 drone in Donetsk Oblast, CNN reported on March 16.
Ukraine's Security Service told CNN overnight on March 11 that its agents based on Russian-occupied territories warned the drone had been launched to attack Ukrainian positions. The law enforcement authority alarmed military units stationed near Sloviansk, who then shot down the aircraft with AK-47 assault rifles.
The retrofitted unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) allegedly carried a bomb of about 20 kilograms, which the Ukrainian soldiers later detonated. According to an expert cited by CNN, the bomb was likely made with 3D-printed components.
Mugin Limited, based in the Chinese city of Xiamen, confirmed to CNN it was their drone, calling the incident "deeply unfortunate." The company previously said it condemned using its commercial products during warfare and stopped selling its merchandise to Russia and Ukraine following Moscow's full-scale invasion.
CNN cited some tech bloggers who referred to the Mugin-5 as "Alibaba drones" as they can be bought for up to $15,000 on Chinese websites, including Alibaba and Taobao.
Chris Lincoln-Jones, a retired British Army officer and specialist in drone warfare, told the publication the weaponized drone downed in eastern Ukraine was not equipped with a camera, excluding its use for surveillance.
"This seems to be a very crude, unsophisticated, not very technologically advanced way of conducting operations," Lincoln-Jones said, adding that the Chinese-made UAV is very cheap in military terms.
In January, Moscow-installed proxies in Ukraine's Luhansk Oblast claimed they had shot down a Mugin-5 drone launched by the Ukrainian military. Kyiv didn't comment on this statement.
N. R. Jenzen-Jones, an arms and munitions intelligence specialist and director of consultancy Armament Research Services, told CNN there is evidence that both countries have used this technology on the battlefield.
Multiple U.S. officials have publicly stated over the past month that China was considering providing lethal aid to Russia, which Bejing later denied.
German news outlet Der Spiegel reported on Feb. 24 that Russia's military was discussing the mass production of kamikaze drones with Chinese drone manufacturers.