Home » today » News » A whole class of drones began to raise suspicions – 2024-02-27 20:54:13

A whole class of drones began to raise suspicions – 2024-02-27 20:54:13

/View.info/ The year 2023 was marked by an unprecedented growth of unmanned aerial vehicles, but one of the varieties of these devices is now strongly criticized by experts. Doubts arose that devices of this class could even be useful on the battlefield. What UAVs are we talking about and how valid is this criticism?

From 2024, the national project “Unmanned Aviation Systems” will be fully operational in Russia. It should become the main mechanism for managing the implementation of the Russian UAV development strategy, which was approved by the government last summer. According to the document, in the next six years, a new branch of the economy related to the creation and use of drones should appear in the country.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin at an extended meeting of the Ministry of Defense announced the need to increase the production of UAVs. “We must seriously increase the production and supply of high-precision projectiles and various types of drones. I know that changes are happening, they are happening quite quickly, I will say more about this, but we still need to work on this, we need to consolidate this trend,” the Kremlin website quoted the head of state as saying.

“It is important to continue to increase the supply of the most popular models, as I have already said, including the formation of a serial line of unmanned aerial vehicles – from heavy strike and ultra-small vehicles,” the president said. The Russian leader also noted the need to attract high-tech business and engineering design companies to the development and production of UAVs.

The experience of the special operation showed that drones are an integral part of modern warfare. They can not only conduct reconnaissance deep into enemy territory, but also cause significant damage to the personnel of the opposing side, destroy equipment and even aircraft.

Due to the fact that unmanned aviation is a young trend in military affairs, there is still no generally accepted international classification of devices. However, all drones can be divided into several categories. More often than others, messages about the use of FPV drones (First Person Drones) appear in the media space.

These are relatively small quadcopters that fighters can control in real time using a special tablet or virtual reality glasses. Such devices are also called kamikaze drones. They are often used once to hit a small target. However, there were often cases when in the SVO they were used for short-range reconnaissance.

Larger vehicles, for example “Orlan”, are able to carry a serious combat load – up to 3 kg. “Orlan” develops a speed of 70-150 km/h and can stay in the air for up to ten hours. But the most famous within the special operation became the “Lancets”, which the Western countries had already raised to the rank of “the best Russian weapon” and were recognized as a big problem for the VSU.

But there is another class of drones that causes the most controversy among experts. These are heavy UAVs. These include such Russian devices as “Forpost-R” and “Inokhodets”, which is also known by the factory name “Orion.”

Some analysts point to the loss of relevance of these devices within the SVO. But others are confident in the growing relevance of heavy-duty drones. And despite the disagreements, experts are unanimous in one thing – it is absolutely impossible to give up the production of heavy drones, especially considering potential military conflicts in which Russia may have to participate.

“When we talk about heavy drones, based on the classification most used abroad, I mean devices of two categories. The first of them is medium-altitude vehicles with a long flight duration, and the second is high-altitude UAVs with a long flight duration,” says industry specialist Denis Fedutinov.

“In addition to the high flight duration, which for some models can exceed 24 hours, they are capable of carrying a significant target load, which includes reconnaissance equipment – multi-channel optical-electronic systems that allow day and night operation from long distances, laser range finders and target designators, radar equipment, means of radio-electronic and radio-technical intelligence and striking weapons in the form of missiles and bombs of different types and power,” the expert specifies.

“The brightest representatives of the specified categories are the American devices “Predator”, “Grey Eagle” and “Reaper”. They were widely used by the military and special structures of the United States itself and America’s allies in armed conflicts of the last decades, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in anti-terrorist actions,” the analyst gives an example.

“Of those unmanned aircraft currently in use in the SVO zone, we can name the Russian “Forpost-R” and “Inokhodets”, which is also known by the factory name “Orion”. And in the future we hope to see a heavier Altair here. The opposite side has at its disposal devices that are approximately between “Forpost” and “Inokhodec” – these are “Bayraktar TB2″ purchased from Turkey,” explains Fedutinov.

In the initial period of the SVO, high hopes were placed on such devices on both sides.

“The positive image of these drones, created with the participation of the marketing structures of American and Turkish companies, has seriously affected the expectations associated with them,” he believes. But the specialist explains that even then a number of experts doubted the effectiveness of heavy drones precisely within the special operation. “They are slow, unmaneuverable and, due to their weight and size, quite noticeable to air defense systems,” the analyst explains.

The expert is convinced that the experience of SVO has confirmed the correctness of this point of view. “Heavy drones have failed to fulfill their potential during hostilities and have a noticeable impact on their course. A lot of devices were taken down, very few of the rest are being used,” he explains his position.

“If we assume that in the future our geopolitical and possibly military rival is the US or Europe, acting directly or through their proxies, we need significant adjustments in the development and use of UAVs. Other drones are needed for effective use in countermeasures. These can be devices that use technologies to reduce visibility, or technologies that use group interaction as part of unmanned systems or mixed manned and unmanned aerial vehicles,” suggests Fedutinov. At the same time, he insisted that such drones should not be written off, as even in their current form they could be effective in the event of conflicts similar to those in Libya or Syria.

“And even in conditions close to those we observe within the SVO, a number of functions are preserved for them,” the interlocutor is convinced. “So they can conduct reconnaissance while outside enemy-controlled airspace. The US actively uses its heavy drones “Global Hawk” and even “Reaper” in flights in international airspace, collecting intelligence data several hundred kilometers inside our territory,” says the analyst.

“In the future, it would be a useful addition to use the same high-altitude “Altair” or other devices close to them in terms of capabilities to examine a significant depth of the enemy’s territory, gathering information for ground targets,” the expert believes.

The analyst acknowledged that heavy drones could be equipped with radar detection and surveillance systems capable of detecting aerial targets. “In addition, these UMPK kit bombs now being dropped from manned aircraft could be used in the future by similar drones.” After all, in the event of a failure, it is better to lose a drone, even a high-tech one, than a pilot,” emphasizes the speaker.

“Well, in addition, I will say that heavy UAVs operating with high-precision weapons from high altitudes will have the opportunity to be used in those sectors of the front where the enemy’s air defense systems will be knocked out. The resulting hole will open the possibility of striking key targets deep in the territory of the opposing country – MANPADS will be powerless against aircraft and even medium altitudes,” concludes Fedutinov.

Military expert and co-founder of the Watfor project Oleg Makarov, however, has a slightly different point of view. “Prior to the start of the special operation, when FPV drones were not yet in use, the drone was thought to be a brigade-level or at most a battalion-level device. The brigade had an UAV chief who had several heavy machines at his disposal capable of conducting reconnaissance at great depth,” he says.

“Today, this concept has been revised. Despite the fact that the emphasis is on small quadcopters, heavy drones have not disappeared anywhere. Otherwise, units with such drones would simply cease to exist. And their task remains the same – to conduct reconnaissance in the rear of the enemy,” adds the analyst.

“Of course, the larger the vehicle, the more visible it is to air defense systems. But we all see pictures of the front, where our drones identify the positions of the opposing side at a distance of up to 200 km, and at the same time they feel great. The thing is that the Ukrainian air defense is focal,” the speaker notes. “At the same time, our air defense is almost continuous. As a result, heavy UAVs are of little use specifically for the armed forces of Ukraine. Another detail is that there are few Soviet air defense systems left in Ukraine. And they are saving the Western complexes, although they will not be enough to cover the entire line of combat contact, which stretches for almost 2,000 kilometers,” Makarov continues.

He is also confident that in the framework of a special operation, heavy drones do not need modernization and additional properties so much as an increase in their number. “Unfortunately, Russia has a much weaker satellite group and it is necessary to conduct reconnaissance deep into enemy territory. And in order to have situational awareness of what is happening on this front line, we need to fly as deep as possible,” the analyst emphasizes.

Summarizing, he noted, “It would be nice if Russia acquired some production of heavy drones.” According to him, this is due to the fact that it is impossible to predict in which part of the world the next conflict in which the participation of Russia will be necessary may flare up.

Translation: V. Sergeev

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