View from the Target: Russian Drone Captures Ukrainian Yak-52 ‘Drone Hunter’

Yak-52 drone
The Yak-52 as seen from the Russian drone. The image, shared on Telegram by the @faceofwar channel.

An interesting video has emerged showing the Yak-52 as seen from Russian drone’s camera.

As we reported some weeks ago, in an engagement reminiscent of WWII dogfights, a Ukrainian training aircraft reportedly shot down a Russian Orlan-10 drone over Odessa, on Apr. 27, 2024. Videos shared on Telegram and X show the Yak-52 “drone hunter” circling the drone as it descends toward the ground with a parachute (likely automatically deployed).

Sources suggest that although the Yak-52B variant can carry GUV-8700 pods with machine guns or UB-32 pods with unguided rockets, only one such configuration was produced. Therefore, the Russian drone was likely shot down by the second crew member using a handheld gun or automatic weapon.

Interestingly, on Jun. 8, 2024, a new clip was widely circulated on Telegram. This time the point of view is not the one of the Yak-52, but the one of the target drone. While short, the video is particularly interesting as it shows the two crew members of the Ukrainian trainer as they maneuver most probably to get in the right position to achieve a shot.

The backseater looks like he’s about to pull out machine gun or something else from the cockpit.


The Yakovlev Yak-52 is a Soviet-era primary trainer aircraft widely used for military pilot training. Designed by the Yakovlev Design Bureau, it first flew in 1976. The Yak-52 is a two-seat, single-engine, all-metal monoplane with a low-wing configuration.

One of the distinctive features of the Yak-52 is its aerobatic capability, but it is also known for its robust airframe, making it popular among aerobatics enthusiasts and airshow performers.

The Yak-52 is powered by a single Vedeneyev M-14P radial engine, providing sufficient power for aerobatic maneuvers and training flights. The aircraft has a tandem seating arrangement, with the student pilot in the front and the instructor pilot in the rear. This configuration allows for effective training and communication during flight.

In addition to its training role, the Yak-52 has also been used for light ground attack missions. Some variants were equipped with underwing hardpoints to carry machine gun pods or unguided rockets for ground attack missions.

The aircraft’s slow stall speed makes it ideal for SMI (Slow Movers Intercept) missions like the one reportedly carried out over Ukraine on April 27, 2024.

Last Sunday, two Yakovlev Yak-52s of the Spanish-Portuguese Yakstars formation team collided mid-air during a demonstration at Portugal’s Beja Air Show, resulting in a deadly crash that killed one pilot.

Video of the incident circulated online shows the #4 of the 6-aircraft formation making a steep climb in front of the formation and crashing into the #3. Yakstar 4 suffered severe damage to the tail, lost control and crashed. The Spanish pilot managed to egress the cockpit before the aircraft crashed into the ground, but the the parachute did not deploy in time.  Yakstar 3 managed to land, ending upside down with the Portuguese pilot injured.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.