3 Aug 2020 15:50

Delivery of Okhotnik attack drone to Russian forces due to begin in 2024 - UAC head

MOSCOW. Aug 3 (Interfax) - The development of the Okhotnik attack drone will be stepped up, and its delivery to the Russian Defense Ministry is due to begin in 2024, head of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Yury Slyusar told Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"The Defense Ministry has tasked us with accelerating research and development work and has invited us to expedite it as much as possible so that delivery can begin as early as 2024. So, we're actively working on this together with our colleagues," Slyusar said at a meeting with Putin.

"The Okhotnik is our heavy drone, which has unprecedented capabilities; it has the broadest range, the broadest weapons nomenclature, the broadest equipment range," Slyusar said, adding that such machines are now designed and manufactured only by two countries, the United States and China.

Sukhoi Company, a UAC company, was the first in Russia to develop a heavy long-range combat drone called Okhotnik. It took off for the first time on August 3, 2019. The office of Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov said earlier that the Okhotnik's main flight tests are expected to be performed in 2023-2024, including in the assault version with various aerial weapons, and serial supply of the drones to the Russian troops should start in 2025.

According to the Defense Ministry, the Okhotnik is equipped with target equipment for optical-electronic, radiotechnical, and other types of reconnaissance. The drone is made according to the flying wing scheme "using special materials and covers that make it practically invisible to radar."

At the MAKS 2019 air show, Russian President Vladimir Putin showcased the new drone's characteristics to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Combat payload: six tonnes. Radio detectability: even less than the [Sukhoi] Su-57's," Putin said, noting the Okhotnik's flight range of around 6,000 kilometers and altitude of 18 kilometers.

The characteristics of the Okhotnik were previously undisclosed. It was only known that it is 19 meters long and has a wingspan of 14 meters, which is comparable to the parameters of the Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet. According to information from open sources, its takeoff mass will be 20 tonnes, which will make it the heaviest of the drones currently being developed.