Sukhoi attack drone “lit up” MAKS-2015

Exhibits of the concern Radio-Electronic Technologies on display during the International Aerospace Salon (MAKS 2015) that has opened in Zhukovsky near Moscow.

Exhibits of the concern Radio-Electronic Technologies on display during the International Aerospace Salon (MAKS 2015) that has opened in Zhukovsky near Moscow.

RIA Novosti/Mikhail Voskresenskiy
Yuri Slyusar, president of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), told reporters during the MAKS-2015 Air Show in Zhukovsky that the company was simultaneously developing several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the Ministry of Defence. He was not, however, willing to disclose details about these projects. The website mir-robotov investigated the intricacies of Russian military “pilotless” vehicles.

In an effort to compensate for the absence of detailed information in the company’s official press release, Vladimir Mikheyev, first deputy general director of KRET Radio-Electronic Technologies Concern, candidly spoke with the correspondent from the British magazine Flightglobal.com, who was interested in a strange-looking drone model displayed at KRET’s exhibition pavilion. Mikheyev said it was one of the two UAVs on which KRET was working along with the UAC. Once it is introduced into service, it could be used to counter the American F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters. He added that this UAV would carry out the same missions as the Chinese Divine Eagle.

Competitor of the “divine eagle”

The UAV will use decimetre-wave radar and X-band radar to search for enemy aircraft. This drone will also be equipped with an airborne electronic warfare (EW) system, which will be able to blind homing missiles, if the adversary tries to knock down the UAV. All these technologies, Mikheyev said, have been borrowed from the Russian fifth-generation fighter jet, the PAK FA.

The UAV Zond project. Source: Press Photo

Mikheyev said one UAC project is currently being developed, while the second is at the stage of concept development. Representative of UAC refused to name the design bureau that was developing these devices or what names have been assigned to them.

In an official press release, KRET said, “... the majority of drones, for example, within the framework of projects Altius, Inokhodets, Okhotnik, used avionics equipment developed by KRET. It is known that the first two UAVs are being developed by the St. Petersburg company Transas and Kazan-based OKB Sokol OJSC. The name of the latter has already been “lit up” in the media, as a development of the UAC.”

The UAC’s second project, which Mikheyev also mentioned, is apparently the UAV Zond project. The latter, according to information given to the media, is a 12-ton UAV. Pictures of models of this UAV appeared on the Internet, and did not resemble the model on display at the KRET exhibition stand. From characteristics of the antenna on top of the fuselage, it is clear this is the model that Mikheyev designated as a rival to the Chinese Divine Eagle. For some reason, the two models got mixed up in the article written by Flightglobal.com, with the more mysterious model of the stealth drone.

The killer of “Raptors”

A lot more is known about the Okhotnik (Hunter). Technical requirements for this UAV were approved by the Ministry of Defence in April 2012. There were reports that this UAV was a fighter jet, able to hunt for enemy aircraft (the idea fits well with the name given to the project). This would indicate that the model presented at the KRET stand was the Okhotnik.

Skat. Source: RIA Novosti/Anton Denisov

On May 30, 2014, Oleg Bochkarev, Deputy Chairman of the State Military Industrial Commission, said that an attack UAV is expected to be ready in 2018. The media reported that Sukhoi attack UAVs would be using technologies developed for the fifth-generation fighter jets, corroborating Mikheyev’s assertions.In 2009, the former president of UAC, Mikhail Pogosyan, said the base for developing new UAVs would be the MiG, realized in the Skat project which was exhibited as a scale model at the MAKS-2007.

It is likely, therefore, that the UAV displayed at the KRET stand is the Okhotnik (Hunter), about which the head of the UAC chose to remain silent.

First published in Russian by Mir Robotov.

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