On September 27, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video of Russia’s S-70 Okhotnik-B, or Hunter-B, flying wing unmanned combat air vehicle, or UCAV has flown together with a Su-57 advanced combat jet for the first time.
Video footage that the Kremlin released from the flight strongly suggests it occurred at the 929th Chkalov State Flight-Test Center in Russia’s southwestern Astrakhan region, which is also likely where the S-70’s first flight took place earlier this year.
The flight reportedly lasted “more than 30 minutes,” according to an official statement.
“As part of the ongoing test program, the Okhotnik drone performed a flight in the automated mode,” the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement said. The S-70 will “broaden the fighter’s radar coverage and to provide target acquisition for employing air-launched weapons,” it continued.
It’s unclear whether or not the two aircraft were actually networked together in any way during the flight, though the Russian Ministry of Defense said that the test was related to the development of manned-unmanned teaming capabilities.
The S-70, bort number Red 071, appeared to be in the same general test flight configuration, complete with air data probes, as it had been during its first flight.
The official video only shows the two aircraft flying in relatively close formation. This does offer a good size comparison between the two aircraft and underscores just how big the Okhotnik-B is.
The Russians see at least one of the S-70’s future missions being to operate together with the Su-57 in a “loyal wingman” role, which could help mitigate some of the shortcomings of the latter manned aircraft’s design and usher in new air combat synergies overall.