Russian military officials are preparing for the first flight of the Hunter heavy strike drone, which was displayed recently at the Novosibirsk Aviation Enterprise. This unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), officially known as the Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B, is an improved version of the first Hunter drone, which flew for the first time in 2019. At the time, the Okhotnik and the Su-57 were flying together at an altitude of over 5,200 feet for 30 minutes in automated mode.
“The drone’s roll-out signifies the end of the item’s assembly as a whole and its outfitting with all the required onboard equipment in compliance with the requirements for aircraft and the switchover to comprehensive ground tests to prepare for its debut flight,” Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko said.
The S-70 ‘Okhotnik’ (Hunter) drone is even more stealthy than its forerunner, thanks to a redesigned thruster with a flat nozzle and wing design that decreases its radar signature, as well as its unique silhouette without a tail. In addition, the revolutionary 3D-printed flat nozzle makes this drone more difficult for hostile missiles to detect. The drone is also meant to work in tandem with the Su-57 and can attack both air and ground targets.
According to Russian media reports, the fighter plane pilot will be able to control up to four Okhotnik drones simultaneously. As a result, each Su-57 might be equipped with a swarm of lethal drones. These stealthy aerial vehicles can also fly at over 620 mph and have a take-off weight of 22 tons.
The Su-57 and its export variant, the Su-57E, was also developed with a high level of automation, a low radar signature, and the ability to maintain supersonic flight even under challenging circumstances. It’s only going to get deadlier with the new heavy strike drone.
Following the introduction of Hunter’s first flight prototype, the next stage is to prepare for flight tests. Then, by 2024, Russian forces are anticipated to begin obtaining the advanced Okhotnik drones.