The Russian Army has a growing number of UAVs. According to an MoD spokesman quoted by national media, the new equipment will be used not only in combat, but for everyday activities such as training and exercises.
The first use of quadcopter UAVs was during September exercises by the reconnaissance units of the 4th military base in South Ossetia. The data obtained from these was used for fire control improvement. The same drones were attached to a brigade of railway troops of the Air Defence Forces to determine the places of destruction of the railway by the “enemy’s sabotage”.
According to the MoD, the number of modern drones in the army has grown by 70 times when compared to the figure in 2012, when bulk purchases began. Until now, troops have received more than 900 UAV systems to include over 2000 drones. Now almost all drones in service are of a classic aircraft. The most numerous of them is the ORLAN-10, a vehicle which weighs 18 kg and has a speed of up to 150 km/h. It can remain in the air for at least 12 hours, moving up to 120 km away from the operator. The entire complex includes three devices, a vehicle for transportation and control in addition to surveillance equipment.
Export Prospects for Russian Army UAVs
At the Army-2020 Forum, Kazan-based ENICS company presented a variety of UAV systems of the ELERON family. Experts paid special attention to the ELERON-7 (export version ELERON T28ME). The system is intended to provide round-the-clock visual search, detection and identification of variety of targets in real time, to determine their exact location with display of GLONASS/ GPS coordinates on the ground control panel. In addition, the ELERON-7 provides high-quality photography of the searched area.
So far, just a small number of UAVs are made with the helicopter trait of being able to take off and land vertically, in addition to hovering. The exact system in service with the Russian Army so far hasn’t been mentioned but it could be another ENICS product called the VEER. This device has a gross weight of up to 4kg and uses four propellers for propulsion, providing an hour-long flight time with a payload of up to 1 kg.
It looks as though Russia will soon start offering its UAVs on the international market by featuring them in the Rosoboronexport products catalogue.