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Russia launched trials for its Okhotnik heavy UCAV


Russia’s defence industry is testing the Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), according to some photos published on Russian websites.


Russia launched trials for its Okhotnik heavy UCAV 3 A photo of the Okhotnik UCAV that emerged on the internet in 2019 (Picture source : Russian Internet)


The development of the UCAV is believed to have started in 2012 under a program that had been initiated by the Ministry of Defense (MoD). The Novosibirsk Aviation Plant (NAZ) named after V P Chkalov, a subsidiary of the Sukhoi Company, a subsidiary of Rostec’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), was appointed the lead designer of the vehicle. The Okhotnik was rolled out last June, and the UCAV has been passing through its ground tests since November.

Some Russian sources claim that a demonstrator of the PAK FA (Su-57) fifth-generation multirole combat aircraft is being used as a flying laboratory for testing of the Okhotnik’s subsystems. It should be mentioned that the jet’s camouflage painting scheme comprises two images of the Okhotnik, namely, on the fuselage’s lower hull and on a vertical fin.

The Okhotnik, also designated as S-70, features the ‘flying wing’ aerodynamic scheme with advanced stealth capabilities and low radar signature, resembling the U.S. Navy’s X-47B shipborne drone. The Russian heavy UCAV is suggested to be capable of firing Su-57’s air-launched weapons from an internal bay. According to the photos, the UCAV is fitted with a single dorsally mounted air intake and three landing gear units, two side- and one front-mounted. The UCAV seems to be powered by a single Lyulka AL-31- or AL-41-family turbofan engine.

The S-70 has a normal take-off weight of about 20 tonnes, being the largest drone that is developed for the Russian military.

According to Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko, the maiden flight of the Okhotnik heavy UCAV is scheduled for Spring 2019. "We are planning that the Okhotnik will make its maiden flight next [2019] spring. The development of the program is among our priorities and it has reached an advanced stage. It is a very important task," Krivoruchko said in an interview with Russian media in late December.


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