In 2021, the Russian army will receive the new “Inokhodets” unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). Their further procurement will go on incrementally.
Russian Defence Minister, Sergey Shoigu, has inspected the fulfilment of the state defence procurement at the Moscow-based “Kronshtadt” enterprise. Kronshtadt operates a full production cycle for the development of unmanned aerial systems, from design to testing and certification.
According to the Department of Information and Mass Communication of the Russian Ministry of Defence, at the end of February, the minister checked the process of manufacturing composite parts for airframe of the unmanned aerial vehicles, the assembly of finished products, as well as a ground control station for the drones.
The focus of the demonstration was the “Inokhodets”, a long-range aerial reconnaissance system with the ability to carry out combat missions. Sergey Shoigu also assessed the promising “Grom” high-speed hunter-killer drone and the “Helios-RLD” early-warning radar picket drone. Drones undergoing routine maintenance after combat use in Syria were also presented.
It should be noted that this was the minister's first visit to a company that specialises in the development and production of UAVs. It seems that Shoigu was overall satisfied with what he saw. At Kronshtadt he discussed with military and civilian specialists the state and prospects of development of Russian unmanned aerial vehicles and identified measures to speed up the pace of equipping the Armed Forces with domestically produced drones.
It has been confirmed that the Armed Forces will receive seven Inokhodets systems; each consists of three unmanned combat and reconnaissance drones. For the first time, the Minister of Defence openly stated that the production of such drones needs to be increased. The company's director-general, Sergei Bogatikov, responded by saying that it was planned to launch a production plant as early as this year.
It is worth clarifying that "Inokhodets” is the name of a development work commissioned by the Ministry of Defence. It called for the creation of a multi-purpose medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone. It was built within the stipulated timeframe and given the civilian name “Orion”. The drone passed the full cycle of government testing and is ready for mass production. However, the military chose to give the procured vehicle the name under which it was developed, which sounded sufficiently martial. In October 2019, Nikolay Dolzhenkov, general designer of the Kronshtadt Industrial Group, was awarded the N.V. Ogarkov Prize for the development of Russia's first multifunctional, long-endurance drone.
"The Inokhodets has a maximum take-off weight of 1,000 kg and a payload of up to 200 kg. It is 8 metres long, has a 16-metre wingspan, and a flight time of 24 hours. Its armament, which is housed in three suspension units, was well presented at the Army-2020 International Military-Technical Forum. They are KAB-100 and KAB-50L guided glide bombs, KAB-20S guided bomb, and FAB-50 unguided high-explosive bomb. The arsenal also includes guided missiles, the names of which have not yet been disclosed.
The Helios-RLD long-range early-warning radar picket drone is somewhat different from the Inokhodets, primarily due to its main purpose. Under the fuselage, this drone carries a modern radar system with a repeater function. As specialists claim, several of these drones are able to form continuous radar coverage all over the Arctic and ensure stable radio communication there. In addition, Helios can carry out reconnaissance for the Navy or the Border Guard Service. In the Russian Army's expeditionary missions, long-range radar detection drones will be indispensable for commanding troops and obtaining vital information.
The Grom high-speed UCAV, the mock-up of which was also shown to Sergei Shoigu, is still just a possibility, but not a far-fetched one. Its maximum take-off weight will be about seven tonnes. Its combat load is two tonnes. Speed - up to 1000 kph. The maximum flight altitude will be12000 meters, and the combat radius 700 km.
It will be capable of providing laser, satellite and TV-guided aerial weapons. It has four suspension points - two under the wing panels and two inside the fuselage. "Grom" will be able to carry guided bombs weighing 500, 250, 100 kg, or the light KAB-50S and KAB-20L in large numbers.
According to the Grom's designers, it will be quite capable of operating together with the Su-35 and Su-57 manned fighters, and in the same combat formation as them. In particular, it will save pilots' lives when crossing the air defence zone.
Source: Russian Weapons