The Russian Ministry of Defense officially Released Video Of Russia’s new Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik or “Hunter-B” drone first flight on Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019
Russia’s Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B, or Hunter-B, flying wing unmanned combat air vehicle, or UCAV, flew for the first time recently and now the country’s Ministry of Defense has released video of the flight. The S-70 flew for more than 20 minutes, cruising at an altitude of around 1,970 feet on a route around an unspecified airbase, according to the official statement at the time. This first flight was originally scheduled to occur sometime in the Spring but was delayed for unknown reasons.
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The video the Russian Ministry of Defense has now released, seen below, shows the drone taxiing, taking off, flying around the base, and landing. The UCAV, which is roughly in the same general size class as Northrop Grumman’s X-47B, is now carrying a bort number, Red 071, as well as the new paint scheme that was previously visible in the satellite imagery from Chkalov. It remains unclear if this means this is a refined design or even an additional prototype, that is separate from the one seen in the pictures that appeared in January.
As of May 2019, satellite imagery and official Russian government statements confirmed that at least one Okhotnik-B was at 929th Chkalov State Flight-Test Center in Russia’s southwestern Astrakhan region. However, a separate report from AINonline in June says that the first flight had occurred on May 25 at Sukhoi’s Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association’s (NAPO) plant in the region of the same name
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The new Sukhoi S-70 “Hunter-B” first flight is significant since the aircraft is to provide the first heavy, jet-powered, armed, long-range drone capability for Russia. The remotely piloted aircraft or “RPA” is based on a 2005 RPA design prototype by Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG) called the “Skat” that was first seen as a mock-up at the MAKS 2007 Aviasalon air show outside Moscow.
The new Su-70 Hunter-B is said to have low-observable capabilities, providing it with the ability to penetrate heavily defended airspaces without detection to conduct covert precision strikes. The remotely piloted aircraft may also be tasked to work as a “leading edge of battle” penetrator, conducting the first strikes such as enemy air defense suppression during the opening phase of a major air war.
The Su-70 Hunter-B is a large RPA weighing nearly “20 tons” according to reports, of almost twice the weight of a U.S.-built F-16 Fighting Falcon.
A noteworthy feature of the new Su-70 is its conventionally configured, round exhaust system. U.S. UCAV/RPA designs such as the Northop Grumman X-47B, feature a flat, louvered exhaust configuration to reduce both radar cross-section (RCS) to enhance low-observability and to moderate the aircraft’s infra-red (IR) heat signature.
This round exhaust is seemingly contradictory to the design cues on the forward intake of the Su-70, a trapezoidal engine inlet that appears to be configured to hide the engine fan blades from radar reflection from the bottom/front of the aircraft to enhance stealth. Several sources also suggest the aircraft is made primarily of composite material, a likely additional low-observable feature.