Titan Falcon: 3D-Printed UAV for Ukrainian Armed Forces
The Ukrainian-Russian war is called a 'drone war' due to the extensive use of UAVs by both sides. A notable addition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces is the Titan Falcon drone, 3D-printed by a German company
Espreso explains what Titan Falcon is, its technical specifications, and how this 3D-printed drone can be a threat to Russian invaders.
Briefly, what the text is about:
- Where did the printed Titan Falcon drones come from, and who makes them?
- What is Titan Falcon, and how does it work?
- Titan Falcon technical specifications
- Why do the Ukrainian Armed Forces need Titanium Hawks?
Where did the printed Titan Falcon drones come from, and who makes them?
Titan Falcon drones, printed using a 3D printer, were handed over to the Ukrainian military in November 2023. This was reported on the German Aid to Ukraine project's social media page. The announcement stated that at that time, three such UAVs had been manufactured, delivered to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and two of them were already undergoing testing in combat conditions. This assistance was provided by an unnamed American-Ukrainian non-governmental organization.
The drones are manufactured by the German company Donaustahl GmbH, a startup from Bavaria specializing in weapon development. However, the drone itself was developed by Titan Dynamics, a United States-based company co-founded by Mohammed Adib and Noah Benton. Adib, often referred to as a "mad scientist," has over 20 years of experience with several startups and technological patents. With over 12 years of experience in software and robotics, he previously worked as an engineer at Amazon Lab126 and contributed to the development of programs and software for Tinder, Uber, T-Mobile, Walmart, Alaska Airlines, among others. Adib currently serves as the CEO of Titan Dynamics. Noah Benton, the Technical Director, is a Professor who studied aerospace engineering and has seven years of experience in designing UAVs. He has previously worked on optics used in F-16, F-22, F-35, Boeing 737.
Titan Dynamics claims to have made a mark in the aerospace industry by employing a rapid and cost-effective development process for creating highly efficient drones.
"Thanks to our patented design methods, we can go from 'concept → CFD → production → flight' in a matter of days. Specializing in manufacturing methods that extract maximum range, efficiency, and durability from our drones, we've designed and built numerous rovers, multicopters, and fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles. From structural design to electronics and radio frequencies, we have set records and achieved what was once considered impossible. We offer revolutionary 3D-printed fixed-wing aircraft and vertical UAVs, along with commercial UAVs and consulting services," states the company's website, which includes the Titan Falcon V2 drone among its products.
What is Titan Falcon, and how does it work?
The developers of the drone report that hundreds of Falcons have already been 3D-printed worldwide. According to Titan Dynamics, incredible attention to detail was focused on making the Falcon lightweight yet structurally rigid.
The wings and stabilizers, both horizontal and vertical, are fully removable. Large compartments beneath the wings allow for the installation of VTX (video transmitters) and RX (radio receivers). Functional winglets enable smooth takeoff and landing. There are various wing options to choose from, depending on the drone's specific specialization. Users can also pick between a conventional tail and a V-shaped tail.
The streamlined nose section houses an FPV camera and a platform for adjusting tilt and pan. Additionally, there's an extra section of the fuselage to support a mapping camera on the drone's underside.
Titan Falcon technical specifications:
- The wingspan is 2.1 m
- Take-off weight - 5.3 kg
- Cruising speed - 45-70 km/h
- Flight range - up to 400 km
- Time in the air - 6 hours
- FPV camera - 2.5 inches
Why do the Ukrainian Armed Forces need Titan Falcon?
In a column for The Economist, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi emphasized that Russian military air forces have suffered significant losses, but Russia still maintains an advantage. "Russian drones have taken on a larger role than manned aviation in terms of reconnaissance and air strike missions," explained the general. He noted that drones should be part of the response to the Russians, and Ukraine needs to launch mass strikes using both decoy and offensive drones to overwhelm Russian air defense systems.
FPV drones, including the Titan Falcon, are widely used by Ukrainian defenders. The term FPV stands for First Person View, referring to unmanned aerial vehicles controlled through specialized goggles, hence the name. The FPV mode provides real-time video transmission from the drone's camera, allowing the operator to see the surroundings through the special goggles, simulating the experience of being inside the UAV.
These 'kamikaze' drones can be utilized for reconnaissance or as barrage munitions. They are fast, maneuverable, and can impact enemy vehicles even while in motion or enter hatches and narrow windows. For instance, the Ukrainian Security Service reported the destruction of a heavy mortar system called Solntsepyok using a drone.
In Ukraine, thousands of such drones are produced monthly. The components are sourced from China and Europe, and the drones are assembled based on military requirements. The cost of such a device is between $300 and $500, but it can inflict damage on armored vehicles worth millions, including tanks. If the Titan Falcons prove effective for the Ukrainian Armed Forces and their 3D-printed production remains cost-effective, as promised by the developers, these drones could significantly aid Ukrainian soldiers on the battlefield for reconnaissance, targeting armored vehicles, or overloading enemy air defense systems – as advocated by Valerii Zaluzhnyi. Additionally, the US provided 3D printers to Ukraine in September 2023, capable of printing spare parts for military equipment on the battlefield, following training for Ukrainian operators to utilize this technology.