The Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik caters to deep penetration missions. The hunter is a flying-wing unmanned jet designed to launch deadly attacks as well as serve as surveillance and electronic warfare.
Russian 6th generation aircraft will be unmanned, and the manned version is only an option. It is the affirmation of the leader of the Russian State Research Institute of Aviation Systems, Sergey Khokhlov. With the announcement of the State Research Institute of Aviation Systems leader, the Russian military scholars has recently made many predictions about the possibility of the S-70 Okhotnik stealth heavy unmanned combat aerial vehicle. This could be part of Russia’s 6th generation fighter development program. With modifications, the S-70 Okhotnik could replace the mission of the future Su-57 5th generation fighter.
Russian military officials said that the S-70 Okhotnik has a lot of potential to completely replace manned fighters. However, for this to happen, the UACV needs more time to test and improve, especially machine learning technology and artificial intelligence. Russian military expert Anton Lavrov said that the trend of using UAVs in combat is the trend of the future. Not only in practice, but also in the movie, there were assumptions about UAV squadrons penetrate the defensive shields to attack important targets in the back of the enemy.
According to Sputnik news agency, the Russian Defense Ministry recently approved the decision to set up two UAV Okhotnik squadrons for the Western Military District and the Southern Military District in 2024. These unmanned aircraft could then completely replace military aircraft in the context of large-scale warfare. That will avoid unnecessary risks for the crew of the Russian Aerospace Force.
At the MAKS 2019 International Aviation and Space Show in August 2019, Sukhoi officially introduced Okhotnik S-70. The UAV is designed as a flying wing, using special materials and coatings that make it almost invisible to radar. A video of Okhotnik’s first flight in conjunction with the fifth generation Su-57 stealth fighter was also released by the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The representative of the Russian Defense Ministry said that this is part of the Okhotnik test program, flying completely in automatic mode with full configuration, allowing access to the combat ready function. It is understood that, if equipped with weapons, Okhotnik can participate in combat with the Su-57. Both were developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau, some of the technologies on the Su-57 were used to build the S-70 Okhotnik.
It is known that the Okhotnik prototype was made public before the MAKS 2015, which received approval from the Russian Ministry of Defense in April 2012. This drone will be a unmanned combat aerial vehicle designed to hunt down and destroy enemy flying vehicles, such as fifth generation stealth fighters like the F-22 or F- 35 of America, just like the name itself. Okhotnik is the first heavy unmanned combat aerial vehicle in the Russian Armed Forces.
According to initial information, the Su-70 Hunter was designed to be difficult to detect, able to penetrate airspace that is strictly protected during secret air missions. This remotely controlled aircraft can also take on the task of “clearing the way”, launching the first air strikes to suppress enemy air defense during the opening phase of the war.
According to the latest information, the Okhotnik’s takeoff weight is 25 tons, including 2.8 tons of weapons and ammunition, the wingspan is 19 meters and a length of 14 meters. The design is based on the flying-wing scheme and incorporates the use of composite materials and stealth coating, which makes the drone less visible during the flight.
The engine, in the early stages, believed to be the AL-31F, was used for the Su-27 fighter, Hunter can reach speeds of around 1,000 km/h and a range of 5,000 km, according to Russian media. In January 2019, the drone was fitted with one of the AL-41F engine variants, which allowed to achieve supersonic speed in automatic mode. Perhaps at a later stage, when the Sukhoi Su-57’s engine is completed, it will also be fitted with this engine. It is almost certain that the Okhotnik was designed to act as a “loyal wingman” controlled by the Su-57.
Regarding the armament of the drone, Professor Vadim Kozyulin of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences said it would include air-to-air missiles and various types of guided and unguided bombs. Weapons will be carried in the fuselage to reduce radar signature.
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Despite being advertised as being capable of superior stealth along with an extremely modern design. However, according to Western experts, the current design of the S-70 Okhotnik cannot provide the aircraft with stealth capabilities as Russian claims. One of the things that makes Okhotnik completely invisible is the engine exhaust design of this drone.
Can be easily seen through the photos published by Russia, the exhaust part of the AL-41F engine is completely exposed, meaning that even if the entire aircraft were invisible, its engine could not disappear on the radar display. Compared to American drones, it’s easy to see the difference in engine design. Basically, this design will allow the S-70 Okhotnik to be extremely maneuverable in the air by taking full advantage of the thrust and advantages of 3D vector of AL-41F engine.
However, the exposed exhaust has broken the low radar signature structure on the entire fuselage. This is also the problem that the Russian Su-57 is having. In future versions of the S-70 Okhotnik, it is likely that the drone will be modified by the engine wrap system, in exchange for its maneuverability for stealth. In its design philosophy it is clearly directed at the stealthy factor as the most important one.