The development of the Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is on target for delivery to the Russian military in 2024, according to a board member of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
“Okhotnik deliveries to the troops are planned to begin as early as in 2024,” Andrey Yelchaninov, who is also the first deputy chairman of the Board of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission told local media Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
In August 2020, the Ministry of Defense told the UAC to “speed up the experimental design work and maximally adjust the schedule” to meet that deadline. The aircraft was initially planned to still be in the testing phase of its armament in 2024, with the delivery due to happen the following year.
Russia’s loyal wingman
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. “These planes and drones can interact not only with each other but also in various types of combat formations,” Yelchaninov reiterated. “Within a very short timeframe, there will be a possibility to control several Okhotnik drones from the Su-57 cockpit.” In September 2019, the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle made its first sortie alongside the fighter jet.
The Okhotnik drone is powered by an AL-31 turbojet engine and is expected to fly at a speed of 1,000 km/h, for a range of 6,000 km. It is equipped with electro-optical targeting, radio, and “other types of reconnaissance equipment,” according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Its two internal bays should embark up to 2.8 tons of weapons. In January 2021, the S-70 reportedly destroyed a target on the ground during tests, using unguided bombs of 500 kilograms dropped from its internal hold.