Russia’s Okhotnik stealth UAV will unleash its potential this year

MOSCOW, (BM) – Russia will conduct a series of tests on its unmanned stealth aerial vehicle S-70 Okhotnik, BulgarianMilitary.com has learned. According to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, in the middle of 2021, the Russian stealth drone’s second prototype will be released from the Novosibirsk Aviation Plant Chkalov.

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

S-70 Okhotnik will have an updated design, and according to RIA Novosti sources – it will differ significantly from the drone prototype. A Russian source claims that the engine, on-board system, integrated units, network components, maneuverability, taxiing, joystick control, weapon systems, etc., are tested. According to a second source of the Russian agency, the prototype was just an experimental version, while the second will be an experimental version for mass production.

The S-70 Okhotnik second prototype means that the Russians have advanced in developing the drone, and testing its capabilities will decide its future. Okhotnik expects to enter serial production in the coming years. The first client will be Russia, after which the manufacturer will construct an export version of the stealth drone.

BulgarianMilitary.com reminded you that in mid-February, it became clear that Russia was producing three more prototypes of the S-70 Okhotnik stealth drone.

Has the S-70 Okhotnik been tested on the battlefield in Syria?

Last year, in early August, Russian aerospace forces carried out airstrikes on pro-Turkish militant positions in Syria. The attacks took place in the two key provinces of the Arab Republic – Aleppo and Idlib. According to Russian sources, on August 3, 2020, the S-70 Okhotnik was at the heart of the attacks. The goal was to test stealth technology and drone weapon systems.

However, this information remains contradictory, even tending to be categorized as incorrect. From sources in the Russian Ministry of Defense, BulgarianMilitary.com learned that the S-70 Okhotnik was tested on March 3, but at the Ashuluk test site. It locates in Russia on the border with Kazakhstan.

Thus, in the presence of a single prototype, there is no way that the S-70 Okhotnik was in two places simultaneously. During the tests, the Russians then tested the weapon systems’ capabilities, the ground bombing system, and others.

Autonomy will be an advantage

Military experts say the most significant advantage of the S-70 Okhotnik will be its autonomy. The stealth drone expects to be an “additional wing” of the Su-57 during air attacks and patrols and lead a swarm of other drones. Russia’s leading expert in the field, Denis Fedutinov, says the S-70 Okhotnik will connect not only with the autonomous aircraft of the Russian aerospace forces but also with weapons systems on land and at sea.

“This will require a large-scale applied study aimed at increasing the autonomy of Okhotnik’s actions, as well as organizing the effective interaction of various intelligence and strike means while minimizing human participation in this process,” the expert stressed.

The forthcoming release of a second prototype also has its challenges. Federico says that now that Russia will have two such drones, there is an “intrigue” on interacting with each other. Such a statement carries a hidden message – Russia will face the challenge of building the right strategy and concept when using several drones’ autonomous regimes simultaneously.

Federico does not rule out problems with the financing of such an endeavor, but so far, there are no signals from the Russian side there are similar problems.

Last week, Russia officially announced that it is developing a super-autonomous Thunder drone that would control a swarm of attacking drones.

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