Deliveries of Russia’s latest heavy Sukhoi Okhotnik drone to the Russian troops are scheduled to begin in 2024. Okhotnik deliveries to the troops are planned to begin as early as in 2024. The official reiterated that these drones can operate under control of a fifth-generation Su-57 fighter jet pilot. These fighter jets and drones can interact not only with each other, but also in various types of combat formations. Within a very short timeframe, there will be a possibility to control several Okhotnik drones from the Su-57 cockpit.
Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B (Hunter-B) is a Russian stealth heavy unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) being developed by Sukhoi and Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG as a sixth-generation aircraft project. The drone is based on the earlier Mikoyan Skat, designed by MiG, and encompassing some technologies of the fifth-generation Sukhoi Su-57 fighter jet. The work is carried out by the Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association (NAPO), part of the Sukhoi company. In the documents, the drone is characterised as a “sixth-generation unmanned aerial vehicle”.
The Okhotnik’s design is based on the flying-wing scheme and incorporates use of composite materials and stealth coatings, making the drone low-observable in flight. It has a weight of about 20 tons and a wingspan around 65 feet (20 m). The drone is powered either by a single AL-31F turbofan, as used on the Sukhoi Su-27 fighter aircraft, or by the improved AL-41F derivative installed on Su-35S fighters and Su-57 prototypes. The aircraft bears some visual resemblance to Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Although the first prototype’s exhaust nozzle was conventional and could increase the drone’s radar signature, future upgrade could see improved exhaust as well as engine inlet as shown by a mock up at the 2019 MAKS International Aviation and Space Salon. The maximum speed of the drone is reportedly 1,000 km/h while carrying its payload internally. It is likely the Okhotnik was designed to act as a “loyal wingman” controlled by the Su-57. It is speculated that the Russian engineers could have had access to the RQ-170 Sentinel that was captured by Iranians.