Moscow, Russia – Russia’s Okhotnik unmanned combat air vehicle tests air-to-air missiles. The flying-wing drone has apparently begun tests carrying air-to-air missile surrogates for a planned “fighter-interceptor role.”

Russia’s Okhotnik unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) has reportedly been flight-tested with air-to-air missiles for the first time. While details remain limited, if true, this could be a significant development for the flying-wing “strike drone,” which Russia hopes to have in service as early as 2024.

The recent series of weapons trials apparently saw the unmanned aircraft used in a “fighter-interceptor role”. The tests had taken place over the Ashuluk training range in southwestern Russia.

The combat drone is expected to be handed over to the Russian defense forces by 2024. The Russian heavy strike stealth drone, Okhotnik, or Hunter, has reportedly flown with simulated air-to-air missiles for the first time.

Moscow is developing Okhotnik to fly with its fifth-generation Su-57 fighter to complement the aircraft during missions, providing it with enhanced combat capabilities and protection from enemy aircraft. During the flights, the unmanned aircraft’s simulated armaments reportedly included infrared and radar homing heads.

The Okhotnik performed several flights with functional simulators of guided air-to-air missiles. In the combat version of the drone, such missiles are designed to destroy other aircraft.

The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) performed test flights to assess its flight capabilities and operation of the main onboard systems. The test flights “will make it possible to assess the coupling of the drone’s avionics with missile guidance systems and the lead Su-57 aircraft. State-run Sukhoi Design Bureau is developing the UAV, which is expected to be handed over to the defense forces by 2024.

It has already been tested in conjunction with the Su-57 fifth-generation plane. This is a cutting-edge drone that can fly to long ranges and be controlled both by an operator on the ground and by the crew of an aircraft operating in conjunction with it. The drone can also carry quite a powerful armament.

The UAV had its debut flight, and the aircraft flew with a Su-57, conducting automatic air maneuvers at an altitude of around 1,600 meters for half an hour. The drone and the fighter practiced coordination “to broaden the fighter’s radar coverage and to provide target acquisition for employing air-launched weapons.

The UAV has a takeoff weight of 20 tons with a length of 19 meters and a wingspan of 14 meters. It can fly up to 1,000 kilometers per hour and features stealth technology including materials that reduce its radar signature and a flying wing design (it lacks the tail). It’s also outfitted with equipment for electro-optical, radar, and other types of reconnaissance.

The first Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone,unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV), should be delivered to the Russian military in 2024. The Okhotnik UAV is powered by an AL-31 turbojet engine and is equipped with electro-optical targeting, radio, and other types of reconnaissance equipment. At the time the aircraft flew for 20 minutes and reached an altitude of 600 meters.

The Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik with 20 meters in wingspan and a length of 14 meters, its mass is supposedly around 20 tons. It is expected to fly at a speed of 1,000 km/h, for a range of 6,000 km. Its two internal bays should embark up to 2.8 tons of weapons. The S-70 is supposed to eventually operate in collaboration with the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet to extend the latter’s radar field. It should also be able to use its stealth abilities to designate long-range targets for its leader aircraft without being detected. In September 2019, the UCAV made its first sortie alongside the fighter jet.

Okhotnik performed its first test flight, and has subsequently engaged in a battery of testing to confirm its capabilities. Once operational, the drone is slated to work in tandem with fighter jets such as the Su-57. The Okhotnik made a joint flight alongside an Su-57 wherein the two aircraft practiced coordination “to broaden the fighter’s radar coverage and to provide target acquisition for employing air-launched weapons. The Okhotnik will “take to the skies several times day and night both on its own and together with fighter jets. Russia hopes to put the drone – its first strike unmanned aerial vehicle – into service in the next years.