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Russian Double-Seater Su-57 Will Control ‘Wingman’ Drones: Source

Russia is developing a two-seat Su-57 fighter for tandem flight with the Okhotnik combat drone, TASS has reported citing a source.

The latest version of the fifth-generation stealth fighter is being designed to control four Okhotniks simultaneously through twin commands, the Kremlin-owned outlet explained.

“To control the newest Okhotnik drones, a double command version of the Su-57 will be created. It is assumed that the fighter, which is already being developed, will carry about four Okhotniks with it,” the agency quoted the unnamed source as saying.

‘Wingman’ Drone

The Okhotnik, or S-70, is a heavy strike stealth drone under development by the Sukhoi Design Bureau to fly with the Su-57 in a wingman role. The two aircraft flew together In their maiden test flight in September 2019, just a month after the drone’s debut flight. The drone is slated for deployment in 2024.

In its debut flight, the Okhotnik flew for over 20 minutes under an operator’s control. In its tandem flight with the Su-57, the aircraft flew in automated mode at an altitude of around 1,600 meters for over 30 minutes, TASS reported.

“These planes and drones can interact not only with each other but also in various types of combat formations,” Andrey Yelchaninov, deputy chairman of the Board of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission, said in an interview with state-run newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Photo of Russia's Okhotnik heavy attack drone.
Okhotnik heavy attack drone. Image: Russian Defense Ministry/TASS

Okhotnik’s Demonstrated Capabilities

Okhotnik has demonstrated a range of capabilities during a series of recent test flights. 

In December, Okhotnik flew with simulated air-to-air missiles for the first time. A month later, the 20-ton heavy drone successfully dropped a half-ton unguided aerial bomb on a ground target.

The unmanned aerial vehicle has a length of 19 meters (62 feet) and a wingspan of 14 meters (46 feet).

It can fly up to 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) per hour and features stealth technology. The drone is also outfitted with equipment for electro-optical, radar, and other types of reconnaissance.

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