Active work is underway in the Russian Federation to create drones for defence purposes, a representative of Rostec told Interfax on Wednesday 24th June. Currently, the Russian military has been operating with mainly small reconnaissance drones equipped with photo, video and thermal imaging cameras, as well as relay equipment. One of the most numerous is the ELERON-3, the smallest in the ELERON family (which includes the larger ELERON-7 and ELERON-10) which has been developed and produced in quantities by the ENICS company located in the capital of Tatarstan, Kazan. There is also the heavier ORLAN-10 with the weight of 14 kg and 5 kg of payload though the heaviest drone being currently in service in Russia is the FORPOST (a licensed copy of the Israeli Searcher 2) with a maximum take-off weight of 500 kg and up to 100 kg of payload.
For export Russia offers the ORION-E reconnaissance drone, which has a payload of 200 kg and though not yet in service with the Russian MoD, has been combat tested in Syria where according to General Sergey Shoigu, Russia’s Minister of Defence, it conducted missile strikes. As Interfax reported, Sukhoi Design Bureau has developed the first Russian long-range heavy attack drone named OKHOTNIK (Hunter) which made its maiden flight on 3rd August 2019 before later carrying out a flight with a Su-57 combat aircraft. According to a source from the office of Yury Borisov, Deputy Prime Minister responsible for defence industry, the bulk of the OKHOTNIK flight tests are planned for the period of 2023-2024. The UAV is to be tested in a striking version with a variety of weaponry to be delivered to the MoD in quantities from 2025.