Russia’s Kronshtadt Group has presented a mock-up of a new stealth combat drone named Thunder ("Grom") that can team up with a manned jet like Su-57 to break through enemy air defense systems.
As promised, we are showing new promising unmanned aerial vehicles "Sirius" and "Thunder." Next to them are mock-ups of aviation weapons developed by Kronstadt and other Russian enterprises specifically for these UAVs, Kronshtadt company announced on its official Facebook account on August 24.
Some of the munitions displayed include the KAB-500, MAM-L, KAB-250-LG-E and Izdelie 85.
Military observers speculated the Thunder to be smaller, cheaper, “loyal wingman” alternative to Sukhoi Su-57’s Okhotnik. In September 2019, the Okhotnik performed a flight together with a Su-57 fifth-generation fighter. The drone maneuvered in the air in the automated mode at an altitude of around 1,600m and its flight lasted over 30 minutes.
“The Thunder is capable of working in conjunction with manned aircraft overcome enemy air defenses. The drone will open the air defense, find the radar stations and destroy them,” Vladimir Voronov, director of the Kronshtadt Advanced Research Center, was quoted as saying by Interfax during the ongoing Army-2020 Forum.
“The Thunder is designed to support Su-35 and Su-57 fighter jets,” Nikolai Dolzhenkov, general designer of the aircraft development company, Kronshtadt, told reporters on Monday.
The stealthy Thunder can attain speeds of about 1,000kmph. Weighing 7 tons, the drone has a payload of 2,000kg. The drone can carry 100kg, 250kg and 500kg bombs. It has four suspension points - two under the wing consoles and two inside the fuselage. Combat radius of the drone is 700km and it can reach altitude of 12,000m. Height and wingspan of the drone is 3.8m and 10m respectively.
“It can be made quite economical in terms of development, since it has a high level of unification with the Orion drone. In addition, there is a very high potential for unification with the Yak-130 combat trainer, since they are in the same class in terms of speed and mass production,” the official noted.
Also developed by Kronshtadt, the Orion has a maximum take-off weight of 1 ton and a maximum payload of 200kg. The drone has a service ceiling of 7.5km and its maximum flight duration with the standard payload is 24 hours. The drone can fly at speeds of up 200kmph.
At the Army-2020 event, the company also displayed a mock-up of Sirius drone, touted to be Russia's biggest ever drone with a wingspan of 30m. “The Sirius is the next modification of the Orion. In fact, there is only a new airframe and associated chassis-type systems. It however, is larger in size. It has higher payload and greater combat effectiveness,” Voronov explained.
There are plans to build a flight-capable demonstrator by 2021.
“The Sirius is expected to have a satellite communications complex aboard, allowing it to be operated at almost unlimited range. It will have capabilities for use in both reconnaissance and combat missions,” a Kronstadt official said.
The new drones have been offered to the Russian military. A company official further stated that prototypes of the drones presented at the forum have not yet been built. “Future plans depend on the contract” he said.