Russia has tested a new guidance system for the Orion (under project Inohodets) long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) in Syria resulting in higher efficiency and accuracy in hitting targets. Orion UCAV, developed by Kronshtadt Group, has been integrated with the KRUS Strelets-M intelligence, control and communications system, a deeply modernized version of the 83T215I Sagittarius system, which is used by the Russian ground troops. The Russians have not released the date of the strike with the new system. Orion is compared to the US MQ-1 Predator.
Orion UCAV’s have been carrying out sorties in Syria since 2015. The Orion-E is the medium-altitude, long-range drone, with the maximal takeoff weight (MTOW) of 1 tonne and the payload cap of 200 kg. The UAV’s ceiling is 7.5 km. With a standard load the UAV can fly up to 24 hours and the velocity is up to 200 km per hour. Rosoboronexport is already offering Orion-E UAV for exports.
Russia had released the first image of the Orion UCAV in the MoD 2021 calender. The photo shows the Orion UCAV with beam holders under its wings to which the munitions are attached. The drone sports a desert camouflage.
Russia began integrating drones to its forces around 2008. There was a reconnaissance drone Dozor-85 meant for patrols which could fly for 8 hours. Tipchak was another UAV for aerial reconnaissance. Currently Russia is developing UAVs, including the reconnaissance drone with long flight endurance Sokol Altius-M, scout-attack drone Orion and Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B stealth UCAV.