Speaking to RIA Novosti on Tuesday, Dmitry Shugaev, director of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said that a full reveal of the new combat version of the Orion-E drone would take place this week at the MAKS-2021 military air show.
It will come equipped with a range of armaments, including both unguided and targeted bombs that will allow it to destroy stationary emplacements, as well as tanks and armored-personnel carriers. The Orion is capable of flying seven kilometers above the ground, has a wingspan of 16 meters, and a maximum payload of 200kg of deadly explosives. The drone is currently used by the Russian military, and has been deployed for airstrikes in Syria against the Islamic State (a terrorist group prohibited in Russia).
“Previously, the unmanned system was available for sale only in surveillance version,” and without armaments, Shugaev said. Nine have been ordered by foreign customers since it became available in 2019.
In terms of Russia’s share of the drone market, the arms-export official said that “in the medium term, we expect to occupy up to 10% of the international market with our reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicles.” In addition, a number of new drones, including a heavily armed version, are currently under development.
In April, Russia’s Kronshtadt Group weapons firm, which developed the Orion, revealed it would spend $52 million on a new factory, billed as the country’s first-ever manufacturing plant solely for the manufacture of drones. Last year, Moscow news agency TASS revealed that over 900 Russian unmanned aerial vehicles have entered into active service since 2012.
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