MOSCOW, March 15. /TASS/. Russia’s latest Grom (Thunder) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) will be capable of controlling a swarm of 10 Molniya (Lightning) small-size drones in their reconnaissance and strike configurations with the option of altering their flight assignments, a representative of Kronshtadt Company (the Grom developer) told TASS on Monday.
"Reconnaissance drones are capable of flying back. Strike drones, as in the case with loitering munitions, are kamikaze UAVs. Molniya drones will constantly interact with each other and the carrier drone," the Kronshtadt representative informed.
The Molniya is optimized for its use in a swarm of drones, he said. "Molniya drones constantly exchange data among themselves. It is possible to alter an assignment for each member of the swarm. They can transfer leader roles and are inter-changeable. Artificial intelligence allows a group of drones to fulfil its assignment without constant communications with the carrier aircraft," the company specified.
A TASS source earlier said that the Grom would be capable of controlling a swarm of ten Molniya UAVs and would also be able to carry Kh-38 air-to-surface missile in its own strike configuration.
As the data of Kronshtadt Company suggest, the Grom drone has its own strike capabilities due to the presence of four hard-points: two under the wing panels and two inside the fuselage. According to official data, with a take-off weight of 7 tonnes, it will be capable of delivering a payload of 1.3 tonnes to a range of 800 km. The Grom will also be able to employ a wide range of armament, in particular, a new ‘item 85’ smart air bomb and KAB-250 and KAB-500 guided air bombs.
Small-size Molniya drones are designated for delivering precision strikes against stationary and mobile ground facilities, serving as deception targets to complicate the air situation, suppressing enemy air defenses, creating and controlling a breakthrough strip of an attack group, promptly eliminating suddenly encountered air defense systems and providing multiple electronic warfare in accomplishing tasks jointly with manned aircraft.