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Feb 24, 2021
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Mysteries of the Russian “Altius”: Even the enemy got confused

In the photo: the newest drone "Altius-U"

In the photo: the newest drone “Altius-U” (Photo: Snapshot from the video / Ministry of Defense of Russia / TASS)

The Ministry of Defense has signed a contract for the supply of a pilot batch of reconnaissance and strike drones “Altius”, according to the materials of the final board of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Tatarstan.

“As part of the implementation of the state contract for the Altuis-RU R&D project for the development of UAVs, a separate subdivision No. 2 of the Ural Civil Aviation Plant JSC of the UZGA in Kazan successfully completed the protection and closure of the Technical Design stage. A state contract has been signed for the manufacture and supply of a pilot batch of UAVs. “

The volume and financial expression of the contract were not disclosed. Deliveries are due to start this year.

This news is definitely good news. Because in Russia the entire line of attack drones is closed. There is a light “Orion” with a take-off weight of 1 ton, developed by the St. Petersburg company “Kronstadt”. There is a heavy 25-ton “Okhotnik”, created in the Sukhoi Design Bureau and working in conjunction with the Su-57. And now a mid-weight strike drone has appeared.

It is not encouraging that Altius was created by a completely different company, and not the one that appears in the cheerful document of the Tatarstan ministry. But more on that later.

If it were not for the “Hunter”, then “Altius” could well be considered heavy. Its empty weight is 3 tons, maximum take-off weight is 5 tons.

Wingspan – 28.5 m. Length – 11.6 m. Cruising speed – 250 km / h. Flight range – 10 thousand km. The maximum flight duration is 48 hours. The ceiling is 12,000 m.

The device in autonomous flight uses elements of artificial intelligence. That is, he independently fulfills the flight program entered into his memory, without relying on the assistance of a ground operator. Of course, the main navigation element of the Altius is the inertial control system with correction based on the GLONASS signal.

About how this machine will find targets for bombing, being 5 thousand km from the base, communication with which at such a distance in real time is very problematic, nothing is said. So it remains to assume that in full autonomy, that is, far from “home”, he will only be able to solve reconnaissance tasks, as does the American strategic reconnaissance drone RQ-4 Global Hawk.

There is a certain similarity between these two machines, but for identity it is necessary to multiply the mass and speed of the “Altius” by two. But when comparing their capabilities, an essential question arises. How did the Russian designers manage to bring the flight duration to 48 hours, while the RQ-4, which has larger fuel tanks, is only 36 hours? Paradox.

It is also incomprehensible the statement about the independent shelling of the target without human participation. Even in ground-based robotic technology, the operator issues a weapon permit.

There are various rumors about the weapons of the Altius, and it is not easy to believe in their truth. They are based on the phrase thrown in a year ago: “Izvestia journalists suggested that it would be the Thunder bomb”.

So, due to the fact that the payload of the Altius lies within a ton, it will be extremely difficult to stuff two Thunder bombs into it, each weighing 600 kg. True, “Thunder” is not one aircraft ammunition, but a modular family. It includes two gliding bombs weighing 500 and 600 kg with a range of up to 65 km, and one missile weighing 600 kg with a range of up to 120 km.

There is one more limitation: the standard flight range of gliding bombs can be ensured only if the bombing is carried out at an aircraft speed of at least 500 km.

Of course, the Thunder can also be used on the Altius, but its use will be extremely ineffective. It is logical to assume that this drone will be “registered” with 50-kg gliding and free-fall bombs, as well as missiles that are used on the Orion drone.

The drone within the framework of the Altair ROC began to be created in 2011 in Kazan, at the M.P. Simonov. The first flight took place in 2016. According to the test results of the first prototype, a rather serious design correction began. Two years later, when the OKB was testing a new prototype, the general director of the enterprise was suddenly arrested Alexandra Gomzina, accusing him of misappropriation of budgetary funds allocated for the Altair ROC. However, after a while Gomzin was released due to “lack of evidence.” It looks like it was an action of psychological influence.

Then Gomzin was arrested a second time, because the pressure did not work. Gomzin did not intend to give to random people, catchers of left profits, the defense industry enterprise with an 80-year history. Moreover, the company has accumulated vast experience in the creation of unmanned aerial vehicles. These were the flying targets based on the MiG-17, MiG-19, MiG-21 and other serial aircraft produced during the Soviet period.

The weekly “Our Version”, after conducting an investigation, wrote that it all resembled a raider takeover.

Before the first arrest of the general director, the OKB conducted flight tests of a prototype, which were supposed to go into the phase of state tests. Everything was going well. However, the customer, the Ministry of Defense, unilaterally canceled the contract.

The Ministry of Defense demanded that the OKB transfer all the developments on the Altair to the Kazan branch of the Ural Civil Aviation Plant (UZGA), a branch founded shortly before the hand-twisting began to the general director of the OKB. Simonov. And this despite the fact that UZGA has no experience in the development of aircraft. The most “intellectual activity” is the production of an Israeli drone under license and based on Israeli technology.

In the end, the Simonovites were squeezed. Everything, including working prototypes, was handed over in December 2019.

Only half a year has passed, and we are informed that not only is the prototype of a “different” drone ready – not Altair, but Altius-U – it has already made its first flight. And by the end of the year it passed all the necessary tests.

It is unclear how different this drone is. But it is clear that if the UZGA branch had not lured (outbid) a certain number of OKB designers, they would not have been able to conduct even tests.

It is also unclear how close the long-awaited drone has come to the army. Not to the Ministry of Defense, whose role in this matter is very mysterious, but to specific aviation regiments and divisions. Because victorious reports sometimes turn out to be an empty phrase.

So, twice it was reported that the chassis for “Yars” with motor-wheels were adopted by the Strategic Missile Forces. But several of these machines, which are undergoing trial operation, were found not to meet technical requirements.

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