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Russia to start serial deliveries of heavy attack drone to troops in 2025

This became known during the MAKS-2019 international aerospace show on Wednesday
Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy attack drone  Russian Defense Ministry/TASS
Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy attack drone
© Russian Defense Ministry/TASS

ZHUKOVSKY /Moscow Region/, August 28. /TASS/. The serial deliveries of the latest heavy attack drone Okhotnik (Hunter) to the troops will begin in 2025, the office of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told TASS at the MAKS-2019 international aerospace show on Wednesday.

"On August 3, 2019, a prototype of the heavy reconnaissance and attack drone Okhotnik performed its debut flight. A large volume of trials is required to bring the drone to the level of the serial-produced model. The serial deliveries to units of the Aerospace Force [are planned] beginning from 2025," the vice-premier’s office said.

"The basic volume of flight tests [of the Okhotnik drone] is planned to be carried out in 2023-2024, including the attack modification with various air-launched weapons," the office noted.

The Okhotnik will serve as a "universal baseline platform for carrying advanced air-launched weapons, onboard reconnaissance systems and other equipment, which will allow constantly expanding the drone’s functional capabilities during the serial production," it stated.

Okhotnik heavy attack drone

The debut flight by Russia’s Okhotnik heavy attack drone developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau lasted over 20 minutes. As the Defense Ministry specified, the aircraft "performed several flyovers around the aerodrome at an altitude of about 600m under an operator’s control and landed." The flight took place at one of the Defense Ministry’s testing aerodromes.

The Okhotnik features stealth technology and the flying wing design (it lacks the tail) and has a take-off weight of 20 tonnes. The drone has a jet engine and is capable of developing a speed of around 1,000 km/h.

According to the data of Russia’s Defense Ministry, the drone has anti-radar coating and is outfitted with equipment for electro-optical, radar and other types of reconnaissance.

The remote-controlled Okhotnik model was unveiled at the Army-2019 international defense exhibition outside Moscow in late June.

A source in the domestic defense industry earlier told TASS that the heavy stealth attack drone Okhotnik would perform several more test flights this year.

"The program of the Okhotnik’s flight tests stipulates several more flights with the sequential complication of flight assignments," the source said.

The drone will perform one of its flights in a partially autonomous mode: an operator on the ground will give only a few commands, the source stated. "A possibility is also envisaged for the drone’s completely autonomous flight without the operator’s participation when it takes off, performs its program and lands only under the control of its own guidance system."

As another source in the defense industry told TASS, before that the drone already made several take-offs, jumping several meters above the runway and landing immediately after that. The drone performed a whole series of such tests but they are not viewed as a full-fledged flight, the source pointed out.

The MAKS-2019 international aerospace show runs in the town of Zhukovsky outside Moscow on August 27-September 1. The event’s organizers are Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry and the state hi-tech corporation Rostec. A total of 827 companies from 33 countries are taking part in the aerospace show, including 184 foreign firms.