Despite Russia being cash-strapped, the Russian military continues its modernization and expansion drive. Its latest effort includes the upgraded S-70 Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy combat drone is on its way to the military for testing.
Hunter is developed by Chkalov’s Novosibirsk aviation plant in western Siberia — a subsidiary of the famous Sukhoi Company.
As always, it’s up to western analysts to separate true capabilities from Kremlin hype.
But, the drone reportedly uses a Russian made-engine — the Al-41F1, which is also used on the Su-57 and the Checkmate aircraft — giving it a range of up to 3728 miles (6,000 kilometers). It also is equipped with a flat nozzle to increase its stealth capability.
The Hunter has a takeoff weight of 20 tons, measures 46 feet (14 meters) long and has a wingspan of 62 feet (19 meters0. This new version can reportedly reach speeds up to 620 mph (1,000 kph).
According to Defense News:
The new S-70 is equipped with technologies “surpassing a few foreign analogues by a number of parameters,” Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexey Krivoruchko told reporters Wednesday during a visit to the Novosibirsk plant.
A spokesman for the United Aircraft Corporation, which owns Sukhoi, told Defense News that the S-70 is a “promising aviation platform with great potential for the development of a family of unmanned systems of the future.”
The drone is expected to complement Su-57 fighter missions, with one jet able to work in tandem with up to four S-70s, an aviation industry source told state-run news agency Tass. If testing is successful, the drone will enter service in 2024, Krivoruchko said.
Despite the hype, questions remain.
Retired Col. Mikhail Khodoryonok, a senior military analyst for local news site Gazeta.Ru, told Defense News that the drone “has to prove itself in a combat mission,” possibly in Syria. Khodaryonok also has his doubts about Skat’s future.
The head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, Ruslan Pukhov, said:
One has to wait and see. Will it turn into a flying robot that will be able to fly long distances and to perform combat operations? ADN