Russia is set to receive the delivery of the first Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone in 2024. The upcoming unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) maker United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is directed by the Russian Ministry of Defence to speed up the experimental work on the drone.
Initially, with the testing of the aircraft’s armament planned for 2024, the UCAV was supposed to enter service in 2025. The deadline has now been reduced by a year.
“We received an assignment from the Defense Ministry to speed up the experimental design work and maximally adjust the schedule in order to begin the deliveries already from 2024,” said Yuri Slyusar, Head of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), as reported by TASS news agency. “That is why we are actively working with colleagues on this issue.”
Russia’s indigenous unmanned wingman program
The Sukhoi S-70 drone is expected to operate in collaboration with the SU-57 fifth-generation fighter jet to extend the fighter jet’s radar field and use its stealth abilities to designate long-range targets for its lead aircraft without being detected.
The Sukhoi S-70 Hunter is way larger than its Western counterparts like Dassault nEUROn and Northrop Grumman X-47B. With 20 meters in wingspan and a length of 14 meters, its mass is supposedly around 20 tons (against 4.9 for the Dassault nEUROn and 6.3 for the Northrop Grumman X-47B). It is expected to fly at a speed of 1,000 km/h, for a range of 6,000 km and its two internal bays should embark up to 2.8 tons of weapons.
According to the Ministry of Defence, S-70 Okhotnikis powered by an AL-31 turbojet engine and is equipped with electro-optical targeting, radio, and “other types of reconnaissance equipment”. It made its first flight on August 7, 2019, flying for 20 minutes and reaching an altitude of 600 meters (1,970 feet).