Russia Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu visited Sukhoi’s Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association Plant on August 5, 2021. He inspected the assembly lines of the Su-34 tactical bomber, as well as the work being carried out on the S-70 Okhotnik (“Hunter”) combat drone.
“We hope that by 2022 the work will be completed and we will be able to sign, as is now customary in the Armed Forces, a large long-term contract for drones,” the Russian Defense Minister said at the meeting after the inspection. “This is necessary so that the industry knows how to build its plans for the next ten years.”
In August 2020, the Ministry of Defense told the United Aircraft Corporation 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. The target is now to have the first delivery happen as early as 2024.
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.
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.
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.
In late July 2021, a source in the military-industrial complex told the Russian news agency TASS that a two-seater version of the Su-57 capable of controlling 4 S-70 drones at the same time was under development.