Drone named after raccoon to help Ukraine pound Russian fleet

Ukraine marine drone strikes Russia' Black Sea fleet

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Internet warriors have raised more that £200,000 for a naval drone to boost Ukraine’s war effort – and have named it after a famous raccoon. The North Atlantic Fella Organisation has been fighting back against Russian online propaganda for months.

And when they were offered the chance to put their money where their mouths by Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s United24 initiative, the collective snapped up the chance, swiftly raising $250,000 to buy a naval drone.

NAFO which has an obsession with dogs, with activists using Shibu Inu profile pictures, subsequently decided to name the unmanned autonomous vessel Raccoon’s Revenge (albeit raccoons are not actually canines but rather procyonidae).

The decision stemmed from the apparent theft from a local zoo of animals including a raccoon by Russian troops fleeing the city of Kherson last month.

“The Raccoon of Kherson” has since become something of a celebrity on Russian social media, and has been used as a mascot by Russian paratroopers – but NAFO’s decision is a clear reminder of its Ukrainian ancestry.

The decision follows an online poll of more than 11,000 people, with Raccoon’s Revenge coming out on top, ahead of HMS Bonqueror and Aqua Bonker 9000.

US Army veteran and current fella Pete told Sky News: “I was partial to HMS Bonqueror myself, but Racoon’s Revenge was the community choice.

“If a Russian warship gets taken out by a drone crowdfunded by NAFO, that might be hard to top as far as humour in this war goes.

“And with the thousands of mortar and artillery shells, dozens of vehicles and artillery pieces we’ve sponsored, and all the rest, that’s a pretty high bar to clear.”

Pete, who also helps run the forge – designers who create custom ‘fella’ avatars for people making donations – added: “I’d like to highlight the fellas in the forge who are responsible for making the diverse, highly creative profile pics for donation.

“Without them, this whole thing is impossible.”

NAFO, which is believed to have raised as much as $1 million – earned praise from United24, a global initiative to support Ukraine which was launched on May 5.

It tweeted: “You did it, you magnificent doggos!

“As of this morning, $255,546 for the #NAFOdrone has been raised!

“Thank you to every fella for making this happen, for every #nafofleet, every donation. Raccoon’s Revenge is non-negotiable, thanks to each one of you.”

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The naval drones are 5.5 metres long, with a range of 500 miles, and are capable of carrying a combat load of more than 440lbs.

Ukraine wants to use them to target disrupt Russian warships targeting Ukraine’s power networks.

Speaking earlier this year, US Army Lieutenant Colonel and drone warfare expert Paul Lushenko said maritime drones were “just another axis of approach” to target Russian assets.

He explained: “There’s only so many target acquisition systems on even these exquisite boats these days.

“And so when you have a swarming of capabilities, how do you prioritise targets?”

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