An Orion combat drone struck an air target for the first time, the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) revealed in a video of the exercise this week.
The reconnaissance and attack drone fired an unspecified air-to-air munition at the hovering rotary-wing unmanned vehicle, “simulating a maneuvering air target,” blowing it to pieces. According to the MoD, the drone fired at ground targets as well during the exercise at the Crimean training ground.
The video comes as Russia has reportedly developed a new aircraft-launched laser-guided missile based on the Kornet-D anti-tank munition. RIA Novosti revealed that the missile, which has been tested on the Forpost, the Altius, and the Orion unmanned aerial vehicles, has a range of 10 km (6.2 mi) and can neutralize “heavily armored vehicles and low-flying low-speed air targets.”
Russia was reportedly planning to test a modernized version of the 9K121 Vikhr laser-guided anti-tank missile on the unmanned platform to increase its lethality.
“Currently, work is underway to integrate modernized anti-tank missiles of the Vikhr-M complex on Orion. In autumn, the first drone firing of Vortexes from a drone will be conducted at the military training ground at ground targets imitating enemy armored vehicles,” RIA Novosti quoted a source as saying in a July report. According to the outlet, two Vikhr missiles were to be fitted with the unmanned vehicle’s containers suspended on the underwing pylons.
Reconnaissance, Combat Drone
The Kronshtadt drone was also going to be fitted with an electronic warfare suite “to defend itself against missiles…and to suppress any enemy systems in the interests of other units on the battlefield,” Kronshtadt Company Group CEO Sergei Bogatikov revealed to RIA.
Initially developed for reconnaissance purposes, combat capabilities have been added to the drone since its induction into the service in 2020. A year later, the drone was deployed in Syria as part of its assessment, which included reconnaissance and anti-terrorist strikes.
During the tests, the aircraft was fitted with a “modernized wearable complex of intelligence, command and communications Strelets-M,” striking targets with a “high rate of efficiency and accuracy” in real-time.
The Orion can fly at a maximum speed of 200 kph (124 mph) and an altitude up to 8,000 m (2,624 ft), for 24 hours. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 1,150 kg (2,535 lb), and a payload limit of 200 kg (440 lb).