Russian Defense Minister Gives Update On The Su-34 Modernization & The S-70 Hunter Drone

Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defense Minister, arrived in Novosibirsk on a business visit, during which he toured the Sukhoi Novosibirsk Chkalov aircraft factory, one of the Russian military-industrial complex’s key enterprises. The Minister of Defense received information and made statements regarding the development of these aircraft while inspecting the delivery of SU-34 aircraft to the Russian Air Force and the development and manufacture of Okhotnik heavy attack drones.

Addressing the modernization of the Su-34 fighter-bomber, the Minister of Defense stated that the military department has been developing, implementing, refining, and testing cutting-edge technology for several years, with the newest advances in artificial intelligence being widely introduced and applied. The capabilities of such equipment samples have also been validated in Syria, according to the minister.

Su-34 aircraft in final assembly stage / From the official Twitter account of the Russian Ministry of Defense

“We are specifically talking about the Su-34 aircraft. Without going into details, I will say that new, modern, very effective types of weapons and reconnaissance have been mastered.” The Minister continued, “Perhaps in this aircraft we have achieved what we have long dreamed of – the time to bring the flight mission to armament was reduced by almost three times. For this, I thank the factory and the designers,” the Shoigu said.

The Minister of Defense also received updates on the progress of the “Okhotnik” or ‘Hunter’ heavy attack drone during his visit to the complex.

Russian Defense Minister examines S-70 heavy attack UAV / From the official Twitter account of the Russian Ministry of Defense

“We hope that within the framework of the “Hunter” program, the employees of the plant are carrying out planned work on the production of S-70 UAV prototypes, that the work will be completed by 2022, and that we can sign a large long-term contract for drones, as currently accepted in the armed forces. This is necessary so that the industry knows how to create its plans for the next decade so that it can order and complete with materials and other types of assurance.”

Within the Hunter program, the Novosibirsk facility is carrying out organized development on the construction of prototypes of the S-70 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, the heavy unmanned aerial vehicle is equipped with targeted surveillance equipment and aircraft weaponry and can fly almost undetected by enemy air defense.

On the initiative of former Russian Air Force commander Vladimir Mikhailov, the Okhotnik heavy unmanned aerial vehicle project was launched in 2014. The Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik Assault UAV, built by Russian institutions and unveiled for the first time at the MAKS-2019 international air show, was dubbed the “sixth generation” of unmanned aerial vehicles.

It has a 14-meter length, a 19-meter wingspan, and a takeoff weight of 20 tons, according to public information. The “Hunter’s” top speed is claimed to be in the thousands of kilometers per hour range. The drone is constructed utilizing materials that minimise radar signature according to the “Flying Wing” design.

On 3 August, 2019, the Okhotnik heavy attack UAV flew for the first time. The flight, which began at 12:20 Moscow time and lasted around twenty minutes, was part of a test program. The aircraft, which was piloted by a ground operator, circled the air base at 600 meters and landed safely. Okhotnik then flew with the Su-57 fifth-generation fighter jet on 27 September, 2019. The UAV moved in the air in automated mode for more than 30 minutes at an altitude of roughly 1,600 meters.

On 1 June, the TASS news agency reported that a pilot of a fifth-generation Su-57 fighter wrote that he can coordinate the operations of the four latest Hunter heavy attack drones simultaneously, although there is no official confirmation of this information.

Header: Sergei Shoigu visiting the Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association Plant, from the official Twitter account of the Russian Ministry of Defense