Top 5 best combat drones [UAVs] in the world

PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – Today, dozens of countries produce unmanned aerial vehicles of varying functionality, from reconnaissance to attack. It is very difficult to determine which attack drone is the best in the world, as the places where it can be tested are politically limited.

There may be drones we don’t know about. For example, China – in terms of technical characteristics, Chinese drones are perfect, but how they will behave during combat remains a mystery.

Therefore, we have included drones that have been or are currently involved in various conflicts around the world.

#5 – S-70 Okhotnik, Russia

Russian Ministry of Defence Released a Video of First UAV Okhotnik Flight
Photo credit: YouTube

The history of the S-70 began in August 2009, when it became known that Sukhoi and Mig had begun joint work on a heavy strike UAV. Already in July 2012, it was reported that the first company would become the head developer of the drone.

In June 2018, the first roll-out of the Hunter took place. On November 23, 2018, the UAV began jogging along the runway with acceleration up to a speed of 200 km / h. On December 19, 2018, the UAV’s readiness for the first flight was confirmed by the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Alexei Krivoruchko, who noted that the work on the project is a priority and is good level. “

In January 2019, military experts determined that the photographs of the car, made according to the “flying wing” scheme, which appeared on the Internet, captured the “Okhotnik” UAV. At the beginning of 2019, it became known that the third prototype of the Su-57 was used as a flying laboratory for testing a number of systems for the Okhotnik project, in particular, avionics, communications, group use of an unmanned vehicle were being tested. 3 August 2019, Okhotnik made the first flight that lasted more than 20 minutes.

The aircraft under the control of the operator performed several overflights of the airfield at an altitude of about 600 meters and made a successful landing. On September 27, 2019, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported to the media about the first joint flight of the Hunter and the Su-57 fighter, which lasted more than 30 minutes.

The unmanned aerial vehicle made a flight in an automated mode, the interaction between the “Okhotnik” and the leader aircraft was practiced to expand the fighter’s radar field and target designation for the use of long-range aircraft weapons without the Su-57 entering the zone of conditional air defense counteraction.

It should be noted that the weight of the empty fifth-generation fighter Su-57, which “oversees” the S-70 for a number of tests and is used as a flying laboratory, is only 18,500 kg.

“Hunter” is made according to the “flying wing” scheme with the use of special materials and coatings that make it practically invisible to radar detection equipment. The drone is equipped with equipment for optical-electronic, radio-technical and other types of reconnaissance.

In terms of artificial intelligence and autonomy, the “Hunter” is a prototype of the sixth generation fighter, however, it will not receive the function of making a decision on the use of weapons, which remains with a person.

Together with the first S-70, images of the T-50-3 got into the network, on the keel of which a drawing of a drone was applied, and on the lower part of the body – a silhouette of a drone. Later it became known that the S-70 radio-electronic equipment was being tested on the Su-57 flight model.

Presumably, a bunch of 20-30 attack drones, covered by two or three maneuverable fighters, will cause irreparable damage to the infrastructure of a potential enemy.

To destroy the S-70 radars, the Su-57 can receive, in particular, the X-58 supersonic anti-radar air-to-ground missile (with a flight range of about 260 kilometers). The X-35 subsonic low-altitude missile will be effective against sea targets. Also, “Okhotnik” can receive four modified supersonic missiles X-74M2 and eight corrected air bombs KAB-250.

#4 – Bayraktar TB2, Turkey

Turkey's UAV committed a 'real genocide' over Russian missile systems and set a record
Photo credit: Defense News

The Bayraktar TB2 reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicle, created by the Turkish company “Baykar Makina”, is in service with the country’s ground forces. It is a modification of the “Bayraktar” Block B and belongs to the class of tactical medium-altitude UAVs with a long flight duration. The drone has more advanced software and control systems than the Israeli Heron UAV.

According to foreign media reports, the Turkish ground forces ordered a total of three unmanned aerial systems (UAS) based on this UAV. The UAS includes six Bayraktar TB2 UAVs, two ground control stations, power supply and maintenance kits. The crew includes the commander, pilot and operator of the onboard payload.

UAV “Bayraktar TB2” is equipped with an internal combustion engine “Rotax 912” with a capacity of 100 liters. from. The maximum flight speed is 250 km / h, the cruising speed is 130 km / h, the service ceiling is 7300 m. The body of the device is made using composite materials. UAV “Bayraktar TB2” is equipped with an automatic take-off and landing system.

The device is equipped with a variety of cameras and surveillance systems, which allows it to be used for reconnaissance purposes. In addition, the Bayraktar TB2 is capable of carrying two anti-tank guided missiles and a Roketsan MAM-L or MAM-C laser-guided gliding ammunition.

The MAM-L system was developed as a laser modification of the L-UMTAS long-range anti-tank missile system; it differs from the base version in that it does not have a rocket engine and is equipped with wings for glider flight.

The system is installed on tactical UAVs Bayraktar and Karayel, which are now in service with the Turkish army. The developer claims that the concept of creating and using the MAM-L system provides users with the ability to effectively neutralize targets that pose an immediate threat, especially during observation and reconnaissance tasks. Due to its high-precision guidance and small dimensions, the use of the MAM-L system can reduce the risk of collateral losses.

In December 2015, for the first time, test launches of weapons were carried out from the UAV “Bayraktar TB2”. So, during the tests from the UAV “Bayraktar TB2” at an altitude of 4800 m, a miniature guided aerial bomb SMM (gliding with laser guidance) was dropped, which hit a target of about 3×3 m at a distance of 8 km. Under the other wing console of the vehicle, a mock-up of ammunition was suspended, which was not dropped.

The Bayraktar TB2 UAV has broken the world record for unmanned aerial vehicles in its class after conducting test flights in June and August 2014 at an altitude of 8 km. The flight duration was 24 hours 34 minutes.

The length of the vehicle is 6.5 m, the wingspan is 12 m, the range is 150 km, the maximum take-off weight is 650 kg, the maximum payload mass is 55 kg.

In November 2018, an agreement was signed on the supply of the Bayraktar TB2 UAV for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

#3 – MQ-9 Reaper [Predator B], US

First Automated Landing of an MQ-9 Block 5 Completed by USAF

UAV Predator B was created on the basis of the successful multipurpose UAV RQ / MQ-1 Predator from General Atomic Aeronautical Systems Inc. (GA-ASI). Work on the Predator B began privately in 1998, but was partially funded by NASA. The first flight of the prototype took place in February 2001.

The Predator B UAV is a larger version of the RQ / MQ-1 Predator. The main difference is the “more traditional” V-shaped tail, which has a positive V-shape. GA-ASI tested the Predator B prototypes with two different engines.

The first is a Honeywell TPE-331-10T turbofan, and the second is a Williams FJ44-2A turbojet engine. The Predator B equipment is basically identical to the RQ / MQ-1 equipment, and consists of a Raytheon AN / ASS-52 (V) wide-range infrared optoelectronic sighting system and a General Atomics AN / APY-8 Lynx synthetic aperture radar.

The Predator B can also be used as a multipurpose combat complex armed with AGM-114C / K Hellfire ATGM and other guided weapons. The UAV control equipment is compatible with the MQ-1B ground equipment.

After successful experiments with the armed RQ-1, the idea arose to practice the use of weapons from the Predator B. In February 2003, the Predator B UAV in a theater version, received the designation MQ-9A Reaper. And at the end of the year, the US Air Force purchased two experienced YMQ-9A UAVs.

Military tests of these machines were carried out. The YMQ-9A demonstrated high, highly superior performance to its parent. The UAV was shown to be in the air for up to 24 hours at an altitude of 13,700 m, and according to GA-ASI, the maximum flight duration is 30 hours.

The newest unmanned aircraft MQ-9 Reaper according to the classification of the US Air Force belongs to the category of “hunter-killer” – aircraft capable of tracking down a target and destroying it.

The MQ-9 Reaper is capable of carrying up to 14 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, while the now widely used Predator unmanned aircraft is armed with only two such missiles. If necessary, instead of missiles, the MQ-9 Reaper can carry 4 AGM-114 Hellfire and two laser-guided bombs – GBU-12 Paveway II, 250 kilograms each.

The MQ-9 Reaper at full load can be continuously airborne for 14 hours and has a maximum speed of 480 kilometers per hour, while the maximum speed of the Predator aircraft does not exceed 215 kilometers per hour.

On May 18, 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a certificate of conformity that allows the MQ-1 and MQ-9 to fly in US civilian airspace.

A Reaper-based unmanned vehicle called the “Mariner” is being created for the US Navy. This device will have folding wings, increased fuel capacity, which will allow the drone to be in flight for 49 hours.

In August 2008, the US Air Force completed the rearmament of the first combat aircraft unit, the 174th Fighter Wing of the National Guard, with MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles. The rearmament took place over three years. Attack UAVs have shown high efficiency in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The main advantages over the replaced F-16s are: lower cost of purchase and operation, longer flight duration, operator safety and the possibility of their shift work during long flights.

As of 2009, the fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles is 195 MQ-1 Predator and 28 MQ-9 Reaper.

#2 – Heron TP, Israel

Israel Wil Unveil the New Tactical UAS T-Heron on the Upcoming Paris Air Show
Photo credit: Israel Defence

IAI Heron (or Heron 1) is a medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a long flight duration (foreign designation MALE – from medium-altitude, long-endurance). The vehicle is designed to conduct reconnaissance and surveillance, as well as perform other tasks during long flights (missions) – up to 45 hours, at altitudes up to 10,700 m.The latest version of the UAV is known as Heron TP or Eitan (a larger one, equipped with engines). Heron made its first flight on October 18, 1994.

The UAV onboard equipment includes a navigation system with a satellite navigation system (SNS) signal receiver, due to which the device is capable of flying in an autonomous mode for a sufficiently long time (it can perform almost the entire flight in this mode). There is also a semi-automatic mode – with operator intervention at certain stages of the mission. The UAV also has the ability to perform takeoff and landing in an automatic mode, which, along with the round-the-clock nature of its use, makes the aircraft a truly highly effective and formidable aviation platform for the enemy. Moreover, having lost contact with the ground command post, the device is capable of autonomously returning to its base.

Heron can carry a wide range of useful equipment: optoelectronic and infrared systems, radio and electronic reconnaissance stations, small radar, etc. UAVs can with high efficiency solve problems of adjusting artillery fire and additional reconnaissance of enemy targets designated as targets for fire plaque. Communication with the ground control point or other information consumers is carried out in real time, the control of the target equipment is automatic or by operator commands from the ground control point, or in a combined mode.

To perform the assigned tasks, the UAV is equipped with a MOSP (Multimission Optronic Stabilized Payload) TV / FLIR complex with a real-time transmission system for GCS or an EL / M-2055 SAR / MTI reconnaissance container. Elta EL / M-2022U Maritime Patrol Radar radar can also be equipped. The UAV is equipped with a fully digital control system with a two-way data transmission system compatible with the Searcher II UAV control system. For control from the ground, the GCS-3000 command post used with the Hunter UAV is used.

Heron was successfully used during operations in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009, as well as in the form of various modifications adopted by the armed forces of Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Germany, India, Turkey and the United States.

The French military adopted the Heron-based unmanned aerial vehicle Harfang of the EADS concern – originally the UAV was called SIDM – from Systeme Interimaire de Drone MALE, and then Eagle. The Eagle 0 aircraft was a prototype UAV that made its first flight in 1998; Eagle 1 – the first serial UAV, which made its first flight on June 2, 2003; Eagle MPR – naval modification of the vehicle; Eagle 2 is an enlarged version of the Eagle 1 with the Pratt & Whitney PT6 theater. Turkish UAVs of this family are equipped with an optical-electronic system of national development and production.

#1 – GAAS Avenger [Predator C], US

Top 5 best combat drones [UAVs] in the world
Photo credit: Wikipedia

The American company General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GAAS), which is the developer of one of the main unmanned aerial vehicles of the American army Predator, in 2009 released a modification of this UAV to be based on aircraft carriers.

The payload compartment of the new UAV can carry two GBU-38 JDAM (220 kg) laser-guided bombs. Considering the length of the apparatus of 10 m (on the second prototype, the length will be increased by at least half a meter), we can say that the length of the payload compartment is approximately equal to 3 m.

The Predator C, like the Predator B variant, is designed to carry around 1000 kg of weapons and sensors. If stealth is not required for the mission, the weapon can also be attached externally to the fuselage and wings. Also, additional fuel tanks for 2 hours of flight can be installed in the payload compartment. In normal configuration, the fuel is distributed 50/50 between the wings and the fuselage.

The Avenger’s electrical systems are expected to initially be less than the 45 kilovolt-amperes available on the Predator B UAV. The long, featureless underside also allows the installation of surveillance systems such as the All-Weather Active Phased Array (AFAR) radar with minimal interference.

The surveillance intelligence systems to be provided to the Air Force have not yet been determined. However, these systems will be fitted to specialized reconnaissance versions of the Avenger. The LYNX SAR all-weather radar will likely be at the bottom of the nose. The prototype lacks the EO / IR ball used by the Predator family. Perhaps a new retractable system was developed.

The vertical V-tail deflects radar radiation and reduces the infrared signature of engine exhaust. On the tail of the UAV, two servos are installed to improve flight control.

The humped design of the engine compartment offers ample room for a snake exhaust which eliminates radar monitoring of the engine. The engine has an S-shaped air intake and is cooled to reduce infrared visibility.

The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545B engine provides a maximum flight speed of at least 740 km / h, but developers believe they can achieve significantly higher speeds as a result of debugging tests. The UAV’s ceiling is 18,000 meters.

Seen from above, the wing is 17 degrees swept (20 meter span) and the edges of the tail are almost parallel. Similar contours are used on classic stealth projects such as the B-22 and B-2.

The curved trailing edge of the wing provides the aerodynamic and structural benefits of a wedge wing while keeping the air intake away from radar. The beveled flanks of the top and bottom meet in a sharp line continuous from nose to tail to avoid the problem of increased effective area of ​​dissipation caused by a smooth flank.

Wing thickness and curvature indicate attempts to achieve the greatest laminar flow. The prototype carries beams at the junction of the left wing to the fuselage, which allow engineers to visualize the air flow in this area.

General Atomics Aeronautical has a division that manufactures materials for the management of radar, optical and infrared signatures. Rancho Bernardo, California, owned by the company has the largest effective dispersion area measurement facility in the world.

It was this unit that solved the problem with the creation of a band-pass satellite antenna fairing at the top of the nose. It should be transparent to the Ku band used by most aeronautical satellite communications systems and opaque to the lower frequencies used by missile and fighter aircraft radars. This ability mimics the designs of the F-22 and F-35.

The aircraft was designed so that the wings could be rolled up for storage in hangars or on an aircraft carrier (if a naval customer is found). The company has long been talking about a possible marine application of the device. The Navy is interested in the capabilities of the series, but does not want to introduce another propeller-driven UAV on aircraft carriers.

The UAV also has a stern hook (required for landing on aircraft carriers), which suggests future tests on aircraft carriers. The inner section of the trailing edge of the wing is thick, providing structural strength for landing on an aircraft carrier and room for fuel, leaving the detachable wing parts dry.

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