Russia’s Sirius heavy drone will carry high-precision guided ammunition, which can prove to be a game changer for the Russian forces in Ukraine.
A new generation of Russian drones is currently being tested, which is the Sirius heavy UAV developed by Kronshtadt – the same company that produces the famous Orion.
A representative of Kronshtadt said that the Sirius will be capable of launching two types of ammunition – guided and unguided. Currently, UAVs have been tested in an autonomous environment – interacting with aircraft or ground vehicles and systems with different types of weapons.
The manufacturer provided no further information on how long the tests will continue. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense wants to receive this heavy drone by 2023 for early use on the Ukrainian battlefield.
A source quoted by the TASS news agency said that the Sirius UAV will be able to not only perform combat missions but also include a reconnaissance role. This unmanned vehicle will be equipped with a sophisticated optical-electronic system.
The source, who remained anonymous, told TASS news agency: “The war in Ukraine shows the need for this kind of technology, especially since it is a vulnerability of the Russian Army.”
Some Russian military experts identify the Sirius UAV as Orion’s “younger brother”. They say it will be significantly heavier when compared to the Orion. The new generation of drones will be navigated by satellite control.
Sirius is a twin-engine drone with a long-range and large payload. It has a structure consisting of a straight wing combined with a relatively thin body. The tail wing of this drone is V-shaped.
This is the typical aerodynamic design of Russian engineers from the Kronshtadt company, the same configuration is also seen on the Orion, the “heart” of the Sirius UAV consisting of two turbofan engines.
However, the main technical characteristics are still unknown. According to data from open sources, the wingspan of the drone will be within 23 meters. Their length will not exceed 9 meters.
In addition, experts estimate 450 kg will be a useful load for the aircraft to carry, while the maximum take-off mass will be in the range of 2 – 2.5 tons. The Sirius UAV will be able to fly at a maximum altitude of 7 km and reach a cruising speed of 180 km/h.
Although the Russian Air Force wants to have Sirius heavy UAVs as early as 2023, after it has fully completed state tests for field use, the timeline is “very challenging”.
The typical example pointed out is the heavy UAV Altius-RU – a cooperation product between OKB Sokol and Tranzas, this drone also uses a twin-rotor configuration like Sirius.
The Altius-RU was developed much earlier than Sirius, it is very famous when it is mentioned many times by Russian media, they even claim it is much superior when placed next to the American MQ-9 Reaper, or Akinci Made in Turkey.
But despite the claim of being ready for combat for a long time, the Altius-RU UAV has not been recorded in combat in Ukraine, indicating that it needs to be further improved, a similar situation is possible with the aircraft Sirius.