Russia has plans to develop seven-tonne unmanned 'convertiplane' that has speed and range of a plane and vertical takeoff and landing like a helicopter.
“The mass of a remote-controlled convertiplane being created in Russia may reach seven tonnes,” CEO of the Kronshtadt Group, Armen Isaakian was quoted as saying by Tass Tuesday.
The helicopter is expected to have the speed and range of a plane and flexible uses of a helicopter (vertical takeoff and landing capability) as the Holy Grail of modern aircraft designers, Isaakian said.
"The five-tonne model is a plane-type drone. The dimensions of a future convertiplane will be determined by the market niche where the demand for it will be the greatest.” he told TASS ahead of the Army-2017 military-technical forum.
“We are conducting research into this at the moment. From the technical point of view we believe it is feasible to create a two-tonne drone and a seven-tonne one, but apparently it would be feasible to start from a functional demonstrator with a mass of 500-1,000 kilograms," he said.
"It is not necessarily going to be an unmanned aircraft. The main economic effect will be achieved if the helicopter’s maximum range of flight without refueling is exceeded three-four times. Meanwhile the range of a helicopter-type of aircraft is not more than 300-400 kilometers. Isaakian said.
"In our country with its vast territory the desirable radius is no less than 1,000 kilometers, and a vertical takeoff plane did possess such a capability." he said.
The commander of Russia’s Aerospace Force, Colonel-General Viktor Bondarev, said the future drones will be integrated within one system of control and operate as a team. “Creation of such a network-centric system would help save costs of training drone operators," Bondarev said.
The United States currently uses different configurations of the convertiplane V-22 Osprey. Japan reportedly has the intention to purchase such drones from the United States.