Okhotnik to Enter Russian Troops in 2024

Serial purchases of Okhotnik be included in the next state defence procurement programme, said the first deputy chairman of the board of the Military-Industrial Commission, Andrey Yelchaninov, in an interview with Interfax on Wednesday.

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Assessing Russian Drone Industry

We do not overemphasize our achievements. You should not be troubled that the names of our drones are not mentioned as often as Turkish ones during the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. We have similar technical solutions that we are able to apply equally successfully in our interests. This applies to almost any dimension of the UAV. We do not lag behind other countries, there are problematic issues, we are trying to solve them in a short time.

In my opinion, the work of three Russian companies to meet the needs of the Ministry of Defence deserves public attention: the Kronshtadt Group, the Ural Plant of Civil Aviation Company, and the Sukhoi company.

The line of drones manufactured by the Kronstadt company was presented at the ARMY-2020 forum, and they aroused genuine interest, not just domestically but among foreign visitors as well. These are different types of aircraft with different aerodynamic schemes and different potential capabilities: strike options, reconnaissance aircraft, long-range radar detection UAVs, repeater drones.

The Ural Plant of Civil Aviation Company creates its own line of attack aircraft. Here only healthy competition is welcome, and the Ministry of Defence, encouraging this competition, may choose a more suitable option. At the same time, the huge market allows all companies to work on it and find their customers.

Our highlight is the Okhotnik-type heavy unmanned aircraft system, which the Sukhoi company manufacturing. The drone has shown efficiency and is being tested. What is flying now is a technology demonstrator and a prototype of a drone that should enter the Russian troops by 2024.


Serial purchases of the Okhotnik unmanned aircraft will be the next state defence procurement programme for 2024-2033, the Ministry of Defence is working on it currently.

Our Commission is also actively involved in this process. One of the tasks of the Military-Industrial Commission is to find a compromise between the capabilities of industrial enterprises to manufacture the necessary products within a certain time frame and within a certain financial framework and to match them with the interests of the Ministry of Defence in terms of implementing tasks to ensure the country's security. This is a priority in the work of the board.

Okhotnik Testing

Firstly, it is necessary to work out the mutual transfer of information between aircraft: this is the redistribution of targets in flight, maintaining intervals and distances, and performing anti-missile maneuvers. Moreover, the information should not spread beyond these two vehicles. There may also be an optimization of the set of equipment required for air navigation. Having tested these solutions on two aircraft, they can be scaled up to three, four, and so on.

Then, there will be no need to equip all aircraft with a full set of equipment to perform the functions of a command post - one aircraft with a pilot is able to redistribute tasks in a group taking into account machine or artificial intelligence, provide information exchange and organize the work of this so-called "swarm". But I think that this concept is wrong, there can be no swarming in aviation, there can only be a controlled order of battle, albeit an isolated one. A complex process where artificial intelligence must find its place.

Introduction of AI to Military Aviation

Whether the final decision to destroy the target should be for the drne or the human pilot to make, that depends on what we percieve of the concept of artificial intelligence. If we are talking about the possibility of making the necessary decisions in the shortest possible time, taking into account the computational capabilities, this is not a prospect, but already a reality. And individual elements of artificial intelligence in this sense - optimisation of calculation algorithms, the formation of a decision-making environment for the pilot - have already been implemented in the Su-57.

The next step will be to optimize the use of unmanned aircraft systems. But, in my opinion, one cannot say that in aviation, artificial intelligence will replace the pilot. I believe that some experts are deeply mistaken when they say that a pilot is an obstacle in the development of aviation because they are not capable of thinking as fast as a computer. I believe that because all the completeness of decision-making and responsibility in aviation will always be with a specific person - a pilot or an operator.

Of course, artificial intelligence will develop, but it will be a system that is focused on creating an acceptable environment for human decision-making. I think it is premature now to talk about leaving the decision to use weapons of different strengths at the mercy of a computer. But such systems are extremely demanded in aircraft navigation, piloting in difficult conditions, restrictions on takeoff and landing, when a person is physically unable to adequately respond due to fog, rain, changes in the terrain. Here artificial intelligence must be implemented in the form of an environment that creates comfort for the pilot.

Sixth-Generation Fighters

The question is open reagarding sixth-generation fighters; if they will be unmanned or not. Many believe that a sixth-generation aircraft is a plane without a pilot. But this does not mean that this plane is not manned. It may not be manned, but it will be controlled by a human in any case. It does not matter where the pilot will be during this time - in a nearby aircraft or on the ground. The pilot will still be able to control it.

In my opinion, the nearest prospects are associated with versatility, when both manned and unmanned aerial vehicles, very similar in design and combat capabilities, will be able to fly in the same combat formation.

This is an excerpt from the interview published by Interfax.

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