The new S-70 drone from Russia has all the makings of a great winner, assuming of course that Moscow really manufactures the stealth weapon in respectable numbers, which is currently the issue with Russia’s military apparatus: Launching Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B drones from a new Russian amphibious assault ship—a kind of miniature aircraft carrier—is planned. Four S-70 “Hunter” stealth drones can be carried on the 44,000-ton helicopter ship Mitrofan Moskalenko. The drones will carry out deep attack missions and also supply Tsirkon hypersonic missiles fired from other ships in the fleet with targeting information. However, the Okhotnik S-70 will be the ship’s eyes, ears, and long-range stealth assault mission.
The S-70 Okhotnik Killer UAV in more detail
The tough Okhotnik S-70 drone will begin serial manufacturing in 2023 and be used more widely in 2024. In 2019, the first flying prototype was revealed. With a wingspan of 46 feet and a weight of 20 tonnes, it is substantial for an unmanned system. A potent AL-41F turbofan engine, similar to the one found in the fifth-generation Su-57 stealth fighter, would power the S-70. This gives it a maximum speed of 621 miles per hour and a combat range of 2,500 miles.
Su-57 and S-70 Flying Together for Full Combat Effect
The Okhotnik will accompany the Su-57 in a “faithful wingman” role, advancing, breaching enemy defences, spotting intercepting fighter jets, and either launching air-to-surface missiles or providing the Su-57 with targeting information. As a result, there are more munitions that can be dropped or launched and there is higher situational awareness. The Okhotnik Su-57 could carry four passengers. This idea was successfully tested earlier this year during an exercise over the Ashuluk training grounds by a drone and a Su-57.
Identical to Other Stealth Drones
The Boeing MQ-28 Ghost Bat’s devoted wingman drone, which is being prepared for Australia, and the Okhotnik are comparable. The S-70 is a flying wing without a tail design, similar to the drone Northrop Grumman’s X-47B. Its coating makes it radar-evading, and the flat nozzle and engine are integrated into the fuselage to increase stealth. There are no apparent inlets or antennae. A payload of 4,400 pounds is carried by two internal weapons bays.
Air-to-Ground Missiles Seem to Have Been Effective
According to Janes Defense, the drone successfully struck ground targets in a precision-strike test in May. The weapon was probably a standoff Kh-59MK2 cruise missile, which the Su-57 is also capable of firing. This 310-mile-range, 14-foot-long cruise missile is satellite-guided.
How Stealthy Is It?
The Su-57 is not the best stealth aircraft in the world, and its ability to avoid radar is in question. The MQ-28 Ghost Bat combat UAV and the X-47B are presumably more stealthy than the S-70 Okhotnik.
Will the Okhotnik and Su-57 frequently fly together?
The future amphibious assault ship will provide an extra method to transport the combat drone to battle because the Russians do not currently have an operational aircraft carrier in active duty. The Russian Navy might benefit more from this setup than the Air Force. It’s unclear how, if one aircraft takes off from a ship and the other from the ground, the Okhotnik will be able to fly alongside the Su-57 in a wingman configuration. To fly in formation, both aircraft would need to take off from closer places. The Okhotnik, however, has a great range, so the loyal wingman idea is still workable if the warplanes can collide in the air.
One must acknowledge that the Okhotnik is moving forward with its many test flights in a way that will eventually result in it taking to the skies for the Russian Air Force and Navy. It has a remarkable range and can carry a lot of weaponry. Keep a watch on this aircraft’s progress, especially if it frequently flies in formation with the Su-57 and forms a true hunter-killer team to track down, fix, and eliminate enemies.