Attack drone “Orion”.
The Russian Orion medium-altitude attack drone flew 38 sorties in Syria. In 17 of them, he struck terrorist targets, 20 reconnaissance and one “for other purposes”. It is reported that this drone was the first of the Russian drones to fire guided missiles. AiF.ru appreciated the first Russian attack drone.
At the test ranges, the Orion's strike capabilities (sometimes called the pacer) began in 2018. During these tests, the drone used bombs of an unnamed type, the first results were not reported. In the same year, the complex was sent to Syria for testing in a real airbase. However, there the drone worked only as a scout. For this, a set of electronic systems for various purposes was installed on the drone. The most noticeable component is the optoelectronic station in the characteristic fairing under the bottom. With its help, the UAV can conduct reconnaissance, as well as look for targets for the use of weapons and monitor the results of the strike. A radar station and an electronic reconnaissance system are also proposed for use.
First time on the calendar
On the eve of 2021, the Ministry of Defense published a corporate calendar with photographs of modern and promising domestic equipment. This calendar depicted the reconnaissance and strike UAV “Paceman”. The device was presented in a desert camouflage color; small-caliber KAB-20 bombs were installed on the underwing and ventral pylons. Earlier, together with Orion, various aviation weapons of small dimensions and mass, as well as pylons for their suspension, have already been demonstrated. However, the UAV with weapons under the wing was shown for the first time in such a strange way.
“Orion” was created by the “Kronstadt” company within the framework of the ROC “Inokhodets” under a contract with the Ministry of Defense. Orion belongs to the class of medium-altitude drones with long flight duration. With a wingspan of more than 16 m and a length of 8 m, Orion has a take-off weight of 1 ton. The maximum payload of the drone is 450 kg, which allows it to carry four missiles on board. Cruising speed is declared at 120 km / h, maximum is unknown. The device is capable of operating at altitudes up to 7.5 km. Depending on the load and configuration, the UAV can remain in the air for about a day. This device has a fairly high flight performance and a solid reserve of carrying capacity, which makes it a good platform for placing missile and bomb weapons.
For the use of UAVs as a weapon carrier, removable pylons are used. One such device is mounted under the wing and another is placed under the fuselage. Apparently, several types of suspension systems have been developed.
Rockets and drone bombs
For Orion – and in the future for other medium or heavy attack UAVs – a whole range of guided aerial bombs is intended. They are made in calibers of 20 and 50 kg. A planning aerial bomb UPAB-50 with a warhead from a missile of the Grad system is proposed. A similar charge is carried by the KAB-50 product, which can be equipped with an infrared, television and laser homing head. There is a simplified bomb FAB-50.
The smallest in the range are KAB-20 bombs. With a mass of about 21 kg, such a product carries 7 kg of explosive. Modifications with satellite and laser guidance have been created. Armament with a warhead weighing from 7 to 20 kg is capable of effectively hitting manpower, lightly armored vehicles and unfortified structures.
The Kh-50 guided missile has also been developed. This product is 1.8 m long with a 180 mm diameter case. The mass of the rocket is -50 kg, of which up to 20 kg falls on the warhead. The missile can be equipped with different types of homing heads. The flight characteristics of the rocket were not reported.
The high combat potential of unmanned aerial vehicles with such capabilities has been repeatedly demonstrated in the course of real conflicts in recent decades. Reconnaissance and strike UAVs have proven to be a useful and convenient addition to manned tactical aviation.
Recall that in August last year, the Russian military department signed a contract for the serial production and delivery of the long-duration unmanned complex Orion. The Ministry of Defense received the first batch of three Orion drones for experimental military operation in April 2020. The military tested the drone, including in Syria, after which some changes were made to the design.