NOVOSIBIRSK, December 14. /TASS/. The first flight prototype of Russia’s state-of-the-art S-70 ‘Okhotnik’ (‘Hunter’) heavy strike drone was rolled out at the Novosibirsk Aviation Enterprise and preparations are underway for the drone’s debut flight, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko said on Tuesday.
“The drone’s roll-out signifies the end of the item’s assembly as a whole and its outfitting with all the required onboard equipment in compliance with the requirements for aircraft and the switchover to comprehensive ground tests to prepare for its debut flight,” the deputy defense minister said.
The Russian deputy defense minister who is on a working trip to Novosibirsk inspected the pace of the fulfillment of the defense procurement plan at the Novosibirsk Aviation Enterprise and held a meeting with the enterprise’s management where he discussed the implementation of government contracts. The defense official oversaw the roll-out of the first Okhotnik drone flight prototype and inspected the process of the assembly of the drone’s second prototype.
“The United Aircraft Corporation of the Rostec state corporation unveiled the S-70 ‘Okhotnik’ drone furnished with a flat jet nozzle,” Rostec said, commenting on the drone’s roll-out.
“The new Okhotnik features a flat thrust nozzle as its major feature, which reduces its radar signature,” Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov was quoted as saying.
As United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) CEO Yury Slyusar pointed out, the work under the Okhotnik program is a key area for the Sukhoi Company and the UAC. ‘Today we are making all efforts to complete the trials as soon as possible and launch serial production,” the chief executive said.
State-of-the-art Okhotnik strike drone
The S-70 ‘Okhotnik’ drone developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau features stealth technology and the flying wing design (it lacks the tail), which reduces its radar signature. According to the data of open sources, the drone has a take-off weight of 20 tonnes and can develop a speed of around 1,000 km/h. The drone’s serial deliveries to the troops are due to begin from 2024.
The Okhotnik heavy attack drone performed its debut flight on August 3, 2019. The flight lasted over 20 minutes under an operator’s control. On September 27, 2019, the Okhotnik performed a flight together with a Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet. The drone maneuvered in the air in automated mode at an altitude of around 1,600 meters and its flight lasted over 30 minutes.
The Motor Design Bureau of the Ufa Motor-Building Production Association (part of the United Engine Corporation), which is engaged in developing an engine for the new drone earlier reported that the Okhotnik second version would be outfitted with a thruster with a new flat nozzle. As the company’s engineers explained, the flat nozzle produced by a 3D printer would reduce the drone’s signature for enemy heat-seeking missiles.
As the UAC earlier told TASS, the latest drone would be capable of operating in conjunction with Su-57 fifth-generation fighters. The Okhotnik drone will be able to strike aerial and ground targets as part of network-centric interaction with the fighter, it specified.
A source in the domestic aircraft-building industry earlier told TASS that a pilot of the Sukhoi Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet would simultaneously coordinate the operations of four latest Okhotnik heavy strike drones. Moreover, a group of drones will most likely be controlled from a new Su-57 special two-seat version, it specified.
According to the data of Russia’s Defense Ministry, during its first joint flight with a Su-57 fighter, the Okhotnik drone operated in automated mode in its full configuration, entering its aerial combat alert area. During the joint flight, the Su-57 and the Okhotnik tested expanding the fighter’s radar field and issuing target acquisition data for employing air-launched weapons, it specified.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in August that the work on the Okhotnik heavy strike drone would hopefully be finished by 2022 and an opportunity would emerge by that time to sign a long-term contract for the delivery of these most advanced drones to the Russian troops.