Russian naval aviation armed with drones (part 2)

The Russian Navy follows the trend to operate robotic systems and increases the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the naval aviation. Naval aviation Commander Major-General Igor Kozhin said drone development for the Navy is a priority guideline for leading design bureaus. The naval aviation has to upgrade the fleet and gradually replace it with new aircraft in the near future. It has to receive a hundred new aircraft, including drones by 2020, expert Denis Fedutinov writes in the Independent Military Review.

Russian naval aviation armed with drones part 2 Skymak-3001 (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The media numerously reported both official and unofficial data on the engagement of drones in the naval aviation. Specific craft were often mentioned, as well as their missions.

It was reported in March 2018 that the Baltic fleet aviation in Kaliningrad region used Forpost to adjust fire of shipborne artillery. The drones were at an altitude of several kilometers and transmitted information to the command post about artillery fire by the Yaroslav Mudry frigate at targets located at various distances. It helped the warship adjust fire in real time and increase the effectiveness of the operation in general.

The drones considerably simplified the task to guide the aviation. They were used in other missions as well, including the survey of coastal lines, specification of terrain relief, monitoring of military infrastructure and friendly forces camouflage.

The drones of naval squadrons were engaged in Syria to monitor the strikes of the Navy and the Aerospace Forces in the interests of Russian and allied ground forces. They monitored the launch of Kalibr missiles from underwater, their flight and targets.

Some Russian companies are developing drones for the Navy. Radar mms in St. Petersburg offers helicopter-type VT-500 drone for a broad range of missions. It has a takeoff weight of 500 kg, a coaxial scheme and can carry a 150-kg payload. Maximum flight duration is 5.5 hours and the range in an autonomous regime is 320 km. Radar mms believes the drones can be soon supplied to the Navy to arm surface warships.

Another potential drone for the Navy is Skymak-3001 created by Aviation Systems in Moscow. It has a single rotor with a steering propeller and the fuselage has a drop shape. The takeoff weight is close to 800 kg. The designer said it can fly for 4 hours at altitudes of up to 6 km. The drone can carry a 175-kg payload comprising optical-electronic systems, electronic warfare and weapons, including unguided missiles and mini bombs with high-explosive, fragmentation and cumulative warheads.

It is hard to overestimate the prospects of unmanned aviation. Drones are already engaged in important missions. However, it is clear that the Navy lags behind other arms of the Russian forces in drone engagement. There is a major potential and Russian companies will compete for the customer. The naval aviation is likely to operate both light drones which can land on a net and heavier helicopter-type craft close to the American Fire Scout. The airplane-type coastal craft are likely to be heavy with a major payload and long flights. They are Forpost and upgraded vehicles, expert Denis Fedutinov writes in the Independent Military Review.

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