Russia has offered a sneak peek at the capabilities of its medium-altitude, long-duration Orion unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with the country releasing a video, in which the drone can be seen dropping weapons during field trials in Syria.
Developed by Moscow’s Kronstadt Group, the Orion is an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), which combines a highly efficient aerodynamic design with lightweight construction and efficient heavy fuel propulsion.
The drone is among the pieces of modern machinery that Russia has planned to introduce in its military of the future in a bid to compete with the drone-making capabilities of the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, and Turkey.
The latest footage seems to have originated from the combat evaluation of the UAV that reportedly took place three years ago.
The video was telecast for the first time on the country’s state-owned Channel One television station on Sunday (February 21). It was shown as part of a 12-minute report on the rapidly developing drone technologies in Russia.
With many countries realizing the importance of tapping the high potential of military drones, Moscow did not want to lag behind and the latest development of the Orion drone as well as the jet-powered Okhotnik are prime examples of that.
In the video, the Orion drone can be seen carrying four small weapons on underwing pylons, however, as per viewers, the parts were concealed on purpose.
The location of the combat deployment was confirmed to be the Tiyas Air Base, also known as the T-4, lying in Homs Governate, central Syria.
The base has been used as a major hub for Russian rotary-wing operations in the past due to its close proximity to the actual fighting than the main Russian airbase at Khmeimim Air Base in Syria.
As per the video, in order to provide the Orion drone as much combat time as possible, the exercise was carried out at the base which also hosted some non-operational MiG-25 Foxbat jets in the background.
A Twitter user @obretix, however, claims that the video was recorded sometime between December 2017 and early April 2019.
— Samir (@obretix) February 21, 2021
In the video, a reporter can also be seen pin-pointing the apparent mission markings on the Orion drone, which are in a desert-style camouflage.
It denoted that the particular Orion UAV had flown 38 sorties in Syria, a region where the Russian Aerospace Forces have been active since 2015.
Of the 38 sorties it had flown, 20 for reconnaissance, 17 for strike missions, and one for an unidentified assignment.
The Orion has a maximum take-off weight of 1 ton and a maximum payload weight of 200 kg. The drone has a service ceiling of 7.5 kilometers, flight endurance of 24 hours with the standard payload, and can attain speeds up to 200 km/h.
The UCAV features a turret under the nose with electro-optical and infrared cameras and also possesses a laser target designator to deliver guided weapons.
The advanced UAV can also be fitted with additional cameras or a surveillance radar, however, there is no evidence so far that the radar was fitted on the drone during the recent deployments of Syria.
Recently, the Russian Defense Ministry had revealed the drone in its strike and reconnaissance version (the ‘Inokhodets’ experimental design work) for the first time, in its first two calendars for 2021.
“The Defense Ministry of Russia shows the ‘Inokhodets’ reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicle,” said the statement of the ministry.
In the picture provided in the calendar, the drone, which had a desert camouflage color, can be seen with beam holders under its wings, which are used for fastening the armament and the attached ammunition.