The Russian Armed Forces use UAVs of the Forpost family to conduct air missions deep in the territory of Ukraine. On March 19, Major General Igor Konashenkov, a representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, said that the Forpost-M UAV had destroyed the S-300 air defense system of the Armed Forces of Ukraine near the village of Vypolzov, 60 km north of Kyiv.
On March 20, the Russian Ministry of Defense published footage of the operation of these UAVs. (Watch it on Youtube)
The Russian MoD said that the UAVs of the Russian Aerospace Forces launched strikes with high-precision missiles at a 122 mm self-propelled gun battery, various armoured vehicles and vehicles of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
What’s on the video?
The video began with the operator controlling the flight of the UAV. The propellers of the UAV begin to spin, and it soars to the sky. The next scene shows the ground through the eyes of the operator. The high-resolution camera shows clear pictures, which helps the operator to distinguish the targets and surroundings easily.
The UAV operates at an altitude of more than 4.5 kilometres. The operator points the sight cross at the desired object, and then an explosion is visible. The visuals show that the UAV destroyed enemy armoured vehicles, weapons depots, and the storage of fuel and lubricants from the air. Another scene shows the destruction of the Ukrainian S1 Gvozdika self-propelled gun. Later, the drone safely returns to base. (We are not suggesting that just one UAV did all that)
A few days later, it was reported that the UCAV had hit a target from a height of about 3-4 thousand meters with precision-guided munitions, possibly KAB-20S adjustable small-sized bombs. The published video showed the takeoff and landing of the Forpost-M drone and visuals of aiming and firing at objects. Another visual showed that a multiple launch rocket launcher was destroyed by an unmanned aerial vehicle of the Russian Aerospace Forces from more than 3,000 meters with precision-guided munitions.
Since 2012, Forpost UAVs have been produced in Russia as a licensed copy of the Israeli Searcher Mk II drone. Forpost-R is its localized version.
The production of Forpost-R was first established at the Kazan Helicopter Plant and then transferred to the Ural Civil Aviation Plant located in Yekaterinburg city.
The Russians replaced the Limbach L550 four-cylinder gasoline engine with an APD-85 engine with a power of 85 hp. A new domestically developed two-bladed propeller was introduced. The control system was replaced by Russian software. For surveillance, Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant has developed the GOES-540 station, and NPP Aviation and Marine Electronics offers the GOES-4 for installation into the drone.
The drone retains the outer contours of the Searcher UAV but with newer features. For example, Forpost-R can receive commands from the modernized Mi-28NM Night Hunter helicopter. But its functionality was still limited to intelligence, and by 2018, the military had about 100 of these drones. In 2019, the Russian Defense Ministry signed a contract to supply 30 Forpost-R drones. As per the Russian media, the drone has been used in Syria.
Forpost-M armed UAVs
Forpost-M is the armed version of the UAV. Two small missiles were placed on the external suspension under the drone’s wing. The description for the first prototype indicated that it was designed to destroy single ground stationary and moving objects.
With a maximum takeoff weight of 500 kilograms, Forpost-RU can carry ariel weapons weighing up to 100 kilograms. The cruising speed of the drone is from 120 to 180 kilometres per hour, the maximum flight duration is 10 hours, and the ceiling is almost six thousand meters. For comparison, the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 can carry a maximum load of 150 kilograms and reach speeds of up to 220 kilometres per hour.
In the strike version, the Russian Forpost-RU drone can use the same guided missiles as the Inokhodets / Orion UAV and guided bombs that can fly several kilometres and glide right on target.
Attack unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) “Inokhodets” and “Forpost” were first used as a means of fire support for troops as part of the Zapad-2021 exercises at the Mulino training ground in the Nizhny Novgorod region.
In August 2019, Russian media reported that the 318th mixed aviation regiment, based near Sevastopol, has a separate squadron of long-range Forpost UAVs. The report said UAVs “Forpost” would be able to monitor a significant part of the Black Sea. They are designed for surveillance and target designation for Kh-35 and Kalibr subsonic low-altitude anti-ship missiles, naval and Bastion coastal artillery and missile systems, said the report.