The crew of a Russian Tu-95MS strategic bomber recently practiced in-flight guidance of an unspecified unmanned aerial vehicle, according to the country’s state-run news agency TASS.
The exercise’s purpose was to work out the interaction between the two aircraft, the news agency said, adding that the drone could be used in operations as a decoy air target to distract enemy defenses.
Bomber Could Use Drone to Distract Adversary
If the drone accompanying the bomber is indeed the Okhotnik, it could use its stealth capability to slip past enemy defenses and locate them so that the bomber could take them out using long-range cruise missiles while staying out of the danger zone, Forbes analyzed.
The drone’s other task could be to keep the enemy aircraft away from the bomber using the drone’s air-to-air missile capabilities, the outlet added.
The piece further speculated that the Russian army might be investigating Okhotnik’s compatibility with a range of aircraft.
Okhotnik, Russia’s latest heavy strike stealth drone, is expected to be in service by 2024. Tu-95MS, on the other hand, is the latest version of the TU-95 “Bear,” one of the oldest designs still active with the Russian Air Force.
The country’s strategic nuclear forces received five upgraded TU-95 this week, which can reportedly carry the latest X-101 cruise missiles that can be retargeted once the bombers are airborne.