BERLIN, (BM) – Russia’s large combat drone, the Sukhoi S-70 “Okhotnik,” could also take on the role of an interceptor in the future, learned Bulgarian Military.com citing FlugRevue. As part of its flight tests, the “Okhotnik” took off for the first time on a series of test flights with air-to-air missiles in its luggage.
Over the Aschuluk military training area in the Russian region of Astrakhan, an unequal duo was seen several times in the air these days: observers on the ground saw the new top fighter’s silhouette Su-57 and a slightly smaller flying wing while looking up into the sky. This was the new Russian stealth drone “Okhotnik,” which flew for the first time in August 2019 and was seen as a “loyal wingman” in conjunction with the Su-57 in autumn of last year.
Active seeker missiles
The latest tests, starting from the airfield of the state flight research center “Valery Chkalov” on the northern edge of Akhtubinsk, should familiarize the combat drone with one of its future roles, according to information from the RIA Novosti news agency. For the first time, the “Okhotnik” was equipped with air-to-air missiles – without warheads and propulsion systems. Still, with fully functional electronics: RIA Novosti quotes an insider that the drone had dummy missiles with active infrared and carried radar target seekers.
“Ochotnik” and Su-57 as interceptors
With this, the testing of the “Okhtotnik” is entering a new phase. Previous test flights had only focused on general functions and the flight behavior of the drone. Now it is a concrete possible application scenario. According to the RIA Novosti, this provides for the use of “Okhotnik” and Su-57 as a network for interception: Led by the Su-57, the drone is to track enemy air targets in the distance and open fire on them with air-to-air missiles. The decision to deploy a missile rests with the Su-57 pilot. The insider said that the flights now completed “will make it possible to evaluate the coupling of the drone’s avionics with missile control systems and the leading Su-57 aircraft.”
Russia’s Okhotnik has conducted a secret mission against US air defense system
The United States linked the first flight of the heavy Russian UAV Okhotnik [Hunter in English – ed.] with Russia’s withdrawal from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate and Shorter Range Missiles, as we reported in January this year, citing the National Interest and Utro.ru.
According to The National Interest magazine, Russia even before the termination of the treaty used banned 9M729 missiles, and the stealth drone should be a hint to the United States that the Russian airborne forces are also able to break through enemy air defenses and launch a bombing bomb.
It is assumed that the Okhotnik can carry nuclear weapons – it can be both high-precision bombs, such as B-61-12, and cruise missiles. According to Russian news agency Utro.ru the Russian S-70 Okhotnik heavy unmanned aerial vehicle carried out a secret mission, the purpose of which was to test American air defense systems for a possibility of a breakthrough.
It should be clarified that previously there was no evidence that the Russian drone could be used for delivering nuclear strikes, however, the drone could very well be used for such missions, especially considering the fact that it was developed specifically as a means of covert delivery of ammunition to the enemy rear.
Neither the US nor the Russian source reports when and where the secret intelligence mission took place, but we point out that so far the Russian strike drone has officially had two fields – both of them was test fields. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls Russia’s latest Okhotnik [Hunter] heavy attack drone has performed its first flight with the most advanced Su-57 fighter jet at September 27, last year [2019 – ed.].
Read more: Top 5 best combat drones [UAVs] in the world
“The Okhotnik unmanned aerial vehicle has performed its first joint flight with a fifth-generation Su-57 plane. As part of the ongoing test program, the Okhotnik drone performed a flight in the automated mode in its full configuration, entering the airborne alert area,” the Russian MoD said in late september. The second flight of Russia’s Okhotnik was in the end of the last year, but the MoD of Russian Federation just annonced that fact without any additional data or information about the flight.
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.
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