The Russian drone Okhotnik will perform its first weapons test next year.
Speaking to TASS Russian News Agency on Wednesday, a source in the Russian defense industry said, “The Okhotnik’s trials in Akhtubinsk will be continued in 2020. As part of a new stage, all of the drone’s onboard air-launched weapons will begin to be tested for combat employment at the testing range of the 929th State Flight Test Center.”
TASS noted that it did not have official confirmation of the plans.
Okhotnik performed its first test flight earlier this year, and has subsequently engaged in a battery of testing to confirm its capabilities. Once operational, the drone is slated to work in tandem with fighter jets such as the Su-57. Last month, the Okhotnik made a joint flight alongside an Su-57 wherein the two aircraft practiced coordination “to broaden the fighter’s radar coverage and to provide target acquisition for employing air-launched weapons,” the Defense Ministry said.
Further flight trials are scheduled for the rest of the year. TASS’s source in the defense industry said that, through the end of 2019, the Okhotnik will “take to the skies several times day and night both on its own and together with fighter jets.”
Russia hopes to put the drone – its first strike unmanned aerial vehicle – into service in the next five years.