Nov 4, 2021
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Top 10 attack drones that will change the rules of war

Photo: unmanned aerial vehicle "Okhotnik"

Photo: unmanned aerial vehicle “Okhotnik” (Photo: Snapshot from the video. RF Ministry of Defense / TASS)

November 2, as reported on the Kremlin website, the president Putin held a meeting with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and defense industry enterprises. Among other issues, the topic of military drones was raised separately. The head of state emphasized: “We have learned to repel these attacks [вражеских БПЛА] and do [это] quite effective. ” He clarified that we are talking about terrorist attacks in Syria.

In addition, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief called the development of unmanned aircraft an important area. “We know very well how it has proven itself in the armed conflicts of recent years, how effective it is and how dangerous it can be for us,” Putin stressed. Apparently, Vladimir Vladimirovich was puzzled not only by the attacks on the Khmeimim airbase in Syria, but also by the successful use of Turkish Bayraktar in Nagorno-Karabakh and in eastern Ukraine.

“It is necessary to continue above them [беспилотными летательными аппаратами] work, work as hard as it has been lately. I also mean the use, including artificial intelligence, of the most modern achievements of technology and science, ”the President said. He advised to make wider use of his own experience gained during the combat use of domestic drones and, of course, any important analytical information, including, one can assume, foreign. The head of state also recalled that we have over 2,000 drones in service.

The phrase “It is necessary to continue above them [БПЛА] work, work the same hard ”should be understood in the context of dissatisfaction with our military drones. If you listen to some Russian experts, one gets the impression that the gap with the leading foreign manufacturers of drones has at least been closed. In any case, we may still be catching up, but breathing in the stars and stripes back.

“… For some, we are already at the forefront. The pace of development in this industry is quite high. And I must say that in the field of control systems and artificial intelligence we are at the forefront, “- said, in particular, a military expert Victor Murakhovsky.

However, according to a group of Western journalists and experts, only one Russian UAV made it to the top ten of the best strike and reconnaissance drones, largely because it is experimental and with decent declared characteristics.

The XQ-58 Valkyrie is considered the best at the moment. This UAV is part of the US Air Force’s Low Cost Attritable Aviation Technologies (LCAAT) research program.

In the photo: BPLA XQ-58A Valkyrie
In the photo: UAV XQ-58A Valkyrie (Photo: Public Relations Wing Air Base 88 /

The task of the LCAAT class drones with a range of almost 4 thousand km is to escort F-22 or F-35 fighters during combat missions, having on board not only surveillance systems, but also weapons. The Americans claim that in the course of technical evolution they managed to teach the Valkyrie to be the watchdog of the newest fighters, and not only to fight for the “master”, but even to sacrifice themselves. In fact, this is a real unmanned light fighter capable of carrying cruise missiles.

Most of all, the overseas expert public is impressed by the price of LCAAT. As overseas journalists and analysts write, this car costs a penny, some $ 2 million. So, they can be stamped so much that they will break through any anti-air defense. At a speed of 0.85 MAX (1050 km / h), the XQ-58 has 8 suspension points not only for missiles, but also for “smart bombs” weighing 250 kg each.

Next comes the stealth drone of the consortium of European countries DASSAULT NEURON. Developers from Dassault Aviation, Saab AB, RUAG Aerospace, EAB, EADS CASA and Alenia claim that their $ 25 million per-vehicle drone miracle is a fully autonomous “artificial intelligence.” Just give the command to “deliver to the destination” two tons of missiles and bombs, and this “neuron” will do everything on its own in the high and medium threat combat zone. And here the paramount computing capabilities of the onboard computer are at the forefront, which can provide the machine with the necessary level of self-control.

In the photo: DASSAULT NEURON stealth drone
In the photo: DASSAULT NEURON stealth drone (Photo: Zuma / TASS)

The third on the list is the Russian S-70 Okhotnik. Yes, the Yankees know almost nothing about it, but this heavy drone is made according to the “flying wing” scheme to support the 5th generation Su-57 fighter. For the mere fact that our monster weighing 20 tons repeats the concept of the top-secret American stealth aircraft F-117A “Night Hawk”, he can safely be given “bronze”.

The fact is that this type of aircraft is literally doomed to the most difficult problem of aerodynamic instability. This means that such computing power is needed that the Americans cannot fail to impress. Add here almost three tons of combat load and 6 thousand kilometers of range, and you get a machine that commands deep respect. True, it still needs to be brought to mind …

Next come the “Chinese” GJ-11, the “Americans” X-47B and Avenger, the German-Spanish drone EADS Barracuda, again the “Chinese” Wing Loong II, the “Turk” Tai Aksungur. Closes the top ten again “American” MQ-9. As you can see, the vaunted Turkish Bayraktar TB2 is not on the list. This drone is good, it turns out, for third-rate troops, such as the armies of Azerbaijan or Ukraine, since it is designed exclusively for fighting a weak or poorly armed enemy. In reality, the time of “Bayraktars” has passed or is leaving.

Pictured: Wing Loong II unmanned aerial vehicle
Pictured: Wing Loong II unmanned aerial vehicle (Photo: Zuma / TASS)

All of the above systems from the top ten can work in the absence of communication with the operator, while other types of drones are critically dependent on control from the ground.

Nevertheless, now in local wars and conflicts, simpler drones bear the greatest load. They are solid radio-controlled aircraft models with excellent technical vision. We have the compact UAV reconnaissance aircraft “Orlan-10” and “Orlan-30”, as well as shock drones “Forpost” and “Walker”. Yes, there are many of them in the Russian army, especially the first two. In fact, we are talking about weapons of war with third countries.

It is not for nothing that the US Air Force insists on the production of the XQ-58 Valkyrie, the “artificial intellectual-killer”. It is he who, in the first place, is destined for the role of cannon fodder, while the pilots on the F-15, F-16, F-22 and F-35 will not fly through hostile air defense and air battles at the beginning of the war. In this regard, Putin is right that the Russian defense industry needs to hurry up with new models. Despite the hurray-patriotic statements, the Russian army needs to have not only an impressive demonstrator, as the S-70 Okhotnik is today, but a whole plant for its serial production.

But here there are difficulties of a completely different nature, first of all with the presence (more precisely, with the absence) of a domestic elemental electronic base, as well as sensors that are not inferior to sensors made in the USA.

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