Two decades after a CIA-operated MQ-1 Predator drone performed the first modern drone strike, Russia is joining the killer drone club as it begins series production in 2021 of its domestic Kronshtadt Orion combat drone—both for service in the Russian military as well as export to clients abroad.
Amongst around a half-dozen Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles (UCAVs) currently at various stages of development in Russia, Orion—also known as the Inokhodet (“Pacer”)—is the first to enter regular operational service with the Russian military.
A factory under construction in Dubna (near Moscow) will annually produce “dozens” of the medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) surveillance and strike drones once it commences operations in November. Each Orion UAS includes three to six of the drones, which weigh one ton each, as well as operator stations, radio equipment, and a take-off-and-landing module.
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