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Can Russia deal with the appalling backlog in the field of unmanned aircraft?
Material posted: Publication date: 07-09-2020

"Orion" is the first Russian MALE-UAV is going into series production

All the key innovations in the field of unmanned aircraft to "Army 2020" was presented by the group of companies "Kronstadt". In the exposition of the company consisted of three heavy UAV related according to the international classification for devices of class MALE (medium-altitude long endurance — medium altitude and long duration flight). To date, the Armed forces (AF) of Russia UAV in this class were absent, but the situation is changing. So, been on the forum UAV "Orion", the lightest and most compact of the three (maximum takeoff weight of 1150, a wing span of 16.3 meters, length 8 meters), is already in experimental troop operation since April of 2020 and even were used in Syria. According to the General Director of "Kronstadt" Nicholas Dolzhenkova, for the supply of the serial "Oriono" already signed a contract.

Despite the fact that the outstanding characteristics of the device can not be named "Orion" small combat load (60 kg in normal flight, which can last up to 24 hours, 250 kg maximum) and no satellite control channel (combat radius is strongly constrained by radio control), the machine is the first step of Russia to reduce the huge backlog in the field of unmanned aircraft. To understand the situation in the military operation against Iraq in 2003 were widely used and strike UAVs MALE-class MQ-1A Predator, its characteristics and appearance is very similar to "Orion" (even piston engine in both models is the same — Austrian Rotax 914), but then had a satellite link. While MALE UAVs-class, in contrast, produce very many countries, such as Israel, Turkey, South Korea, South Africa, Iran etc.

"Sirius" and "Helios" — present the future of Russian unmanned aircraft

In fact, to be in the list of leaders will help the other products shown "Kronstadt". One of them, heavy UAV "Sirius", has already been demonstrated once on "Army-2019", but then it was a civil version of the machine. In the new military form, "Sirius" has a maximum takeoff weight of 2,500 kg, a wingspan of 23 meters, length of 9 meters and a combat load of up to 450 kg. Which is very important, the UAV needs to obtain the uplink and management that will allow the use of the car within a radius of no less than 1000 km As "Orion", "Sirius" will be able to apply various guided missiles and bombs. Note that information about the timing of completion of development there, and the forum was shown the layout.

Even larger UAVs developed by a group of "Kronstadt" has become "Helios-RLD". It has even more impressive takeoff weight of 4 tons, a wingspan of 30 meters, a length of 12.6 meters and can carry up to 800 kg payload. Combat radius of the machine is impressive 3,000 km. In the shown configuration, the "Helios" UAV is a radar reconnaissance (patrols the airspace, identifying targets on the ground, on water and in the air using radar), but the specified features will allow you to create and percussive version of the device, which can approach the capabilities of the most advanced Western counterpart — the American MQ-9 Reaper although the payload and reach. It is quite obvious that the Group of "Kronstadt", showing "Helios", shows the intention to impose competition other project heavy drone "Altius-U", which was previously developed by the design Bureau named after M. P. Simonov, and 2018, after a major scandal and the arrest of the General Director of the company Alexander Gomzin, developed "Ural works of civil aviation". Attempts to "Kronstadt" can be useful — the competition is always the key to success.

"Thunder" — the concept of the future

The most futuristic of the shown products has become a high-speed impact of the UAV "Thunder". The concept of the use of the apparatus is in its operation under the control of manned aircraft, namely fifth generation fighter aircraft su-57 and fourth generation su-35. A few of these UAV can reach speeds of up to 1000 km/h and carrying various bombs and missiles (up to 2 tons), perform the most risky impact operations: the suppression of air defense (PVO) of enemy ground and surface targets in the depth of enemy territory. Combat radius of 700 km is comparable to that of manned fighters.

This concept is now considered worldwide as one of the most promising. So, in the US in 2019, have already made the first flight of the UAV XQ-58 Valkyrie, developed by Kratos Defense & Security Solutions in the interests of American military-air forces (VVS). Actually, "Thunder" is very similar in appearance on "Valkyrie." In addition to the XQ-58 in the contest of the U.S. air force involved the samples being developed by Boeing, General Atomics and Northrop Grumman, but public information about them yet. Another project entitled developing a Loyal Wingman Boeing Australia for the Royal Australian air force.


As we can see promising projects in the field of unmanned aviation in Russia quite a lot. It should be noted that the majority of them are in the early stages of development, and the need for these machines was yesterday. Until Russia can offer its own concepts, guided by foreign experience, which is logical, given the still appalling lag resulting from a misunderstanding of the command of armed forces of Russia in the early 2000s, the importance of the subject of UAVs in future wars. Today, with the necessary funding and efficiency have a chance over the next 5 years to approach the competitors, and then begin to develop and implement their own concepts.

Leonid Nersisyan


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