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Russia's Heavy Stealth Drone 'Hunter' Is Ready for Its First Flight

And it's likely to meet its 2024 deadline.

Russia's Heavy Stealth Drone 'Hunter' Is Ready for Its First Flight
The heavy drone being rolled out UAC Russia/ Twitter

United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), a subsidiary of Rostec, the Russian state corporation that supports military manufacturing, has unveiled the first flight prototype of its S-70 Okhotnik combat drone, Tass reported. The unveiling that took place on Tuesday was attended by Russia's Deputy Defense Minister, Alexey Krivoruchko. 

The Okhotnik, Russian for "Hunter", was first showcased in 2019, and at 20 tonnes, it is the heaviest drone to go into production. With a wingspan of 45 feet (19 m), it is smaller than the Su-57, a fifth-generation fighter aircraft, that it is designed to work in tandem with. Although specification details of the drone are scarce, it is expected to have a range of over 3,000 miles (4,800 km) while being capable of carrying a weapons payload of about six tonnes. 

Earlier in October, we had reported that the Hunter prototype was closer to completion and during the recent rollout featured a flat jet nozzle. According to the Tass report, the nozzle is 3D printed so as to facilitate reduced radar signature for the aircraft. This is in addition to the flying wing design (no tail) of the drone that also aims for the same effect. 

The drone also claimed to be capable of firing air-to-air missiles is expected to fly out with a specially designed two-seater, Su-57 aircraft, Tass reported. The Su-57 pilot will control four of these drones from the cockpit which will be capable of hitting aerial as well as ground targets as part of "network-centric interaction" with the Su-57s, the report said. The drone carried out paired flights with the Su-57 as well as the Su-30 SM in 2019, Moscow Times reported.

"The drone’s roll-out signifies the end of the item’s assembly as a whole and its outfitting with all the required onboard equipment in compliance with the requirements for aircraft and the switchover to comprehensive ground tests to prepare for its debut flight," deputy defense minister Krivoruchko reportedly said at the event.  

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Earlier in August, defense minister Sergey Shoigu had said that the work on the 'Hunter' was expected to be completed by 2022 following which the military would place orders for the delivery of these drones by 2024. 

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