Tupolev to Make First Drone in Decades

Tupolev to Make First Drone in Decades – link

Source: UAS Vision

Article Headlines

  • The venerable defense giant is going to start making drones for the modern Russian Armed Forces
  • The announcement was scant on details. In an annual report, the company announced it will be making both manned and unmanned aircraft, using the latest technology
  • What new drones Tupolev produces won’t be its first foray into military drones. Tupolev produced reconnaissance drones like the Tu-143 during the Cold War, but they were of a type only barely recognizable as drones today. Lacking pilots and live video feeds, the drones flew preset paths, taking pictures on film that would then be processed once they returned home
  • While mostly an abandoned artifact, Tu-143 drones were spotted on Ukrainian battlefields in 2014
  • “It’s hard to envision what kind of drones Tupolev is supposedly planning due to lack of open-source data,” says Samuel Bendett, adviser to CNA Russia Program who specializes in Russian unmanned military systems. “But given the Design Bureau’s bread-and-butter- know-how for making the world’s premiere long-range bombers – Tu-95, Tu-142 and Tu-160, it’s hard to imagine that Tupolev would not want to build on that in making their drones.”

Overview & Comments

  • Russia’s UAS fleet is on a constant rise
  • In 2011 190 UAVs were reported to be in stock
  • By the end of 2018 there were approximately 1800 (from all categories)
  • In the beginning of the previous decade Russia had acquired numerous systems from foreign manufacturers, mostly from Israel – IAI’s Searcher Mk II, BirdEye 400 as well Aeronautics’ Aerostar and various Orbiter systems – to establish a foundation of technology
  • Since then local companies have locally manufactured these systems (i.e. Forpost-R or Zala’s 421-16E5)
  • On the larger scale Russia is quickly advancing with MALE systems such as the Orion-E, Altius-RU and the S-70 UCAV
  • Russian weapon systems are well placed around the globe even within modern strategic countries such as India, thus Russia’s advance in technology and export efforts in the UAS market should be taken into full consideration
  • See “Russia develops second “loyal wingman” project”
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