Russia to build drone army in next decade

The Russian armed forces are to receive hundreds of domestically-made military drones in the next decade. State-owned corporation Rostec and other contractors from Russia's military industrial complex have agreed development and supply terms starting next year, government news agency Itar-Tass reports.

Rostec has been one of the key players in Russia's programme to develop military drones, some of which are to be used as surveillance drones while others are being developed with the capacity to carry explosives.

Earlier this year Rostec presented 'Chirok' their amphibious, flying drone which has the ability to carry bombs and land on water, while smaller surveillance drones have also been tested by the Russian military. Facilities to operate the latter are being developed just 420 miles off the coast of Alaska.

According to Rostec, a programme of integrating "several hundred domestically-made machines of various classes and uses" has been coordinated with the government in the timeframe of 2016 to 2025.

Although a source from the contractor told Tass that the majority of these drones will be tactical, short-range vehicles he also added that "The programme will provide for the development of special weaponry to be mounted on board of unmanned flying vehicles."

Sergei Sokolov, the deputy director for Russia's military industrial complex, said that the state, defence officials and manufacturers have all agreed to deliver the "first comprehensive and systematic plan to develop the unmanned aircraft industry in Russia".

The exact cost of the plan was not announced, however Sokolov added that the government had agreed to finance the production, running and repair of drones as well as backing the development of testing facilities.

Vladimir Verba, the director of Russia's Vega Radio Engineering Corporation, another partner involved in setting up the programme, gave Tass more details about the production aspect of the project.

He confirmed that they will be developing weapons for drones and that all the individual parts, such as the engines and body materials, will be made in Russia.

According to Verba, new light-weight, aerodynamic and weatherproof materials will be developed for the manufacture of the vehicles to ensure they perform well. In addition to that the programme will develop new aircraft pistons and turbine engines, their own navigation system, as well as "highly efficient" electric motors with a low acoustic and thermal signature, making them more difficult to track while flying.

This move towards acquiring hundreds of drones in the next 10 years is one of many modernisation projects within the Russian military as the Kremlin has committed to heavily revamping military kit by 2020. The initiative, in place since 2010 seeks to increase the proportion of kit considered modern in the armed forces from 10% to 70%.

Russia to build drone army in next decade |