Russian Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B drone could Dominate

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have become crucial in modern warfare, as evidenced by their use in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. Both sides have deployed various drones, some made domestically and others acquired from foreign nations. Russia uses drones made within its borders and designs from Iran, while Ukraine combines its drones with systems supplied by Western countries.

The Sukhoi S-70 project, also called Hunter-B, is an ambitious attempt to create a highly stealthy UAV that could transform the air domain. The Russian government expects it to become a dominant force in the skies, which could draw the attention of NATO.

Innovations in the development of high-capacity UAVs

Russian Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B drone could Dominate
Su-57 fighter

According to reports in the Russian state press, the development of the S-70 Ohotnik has been a fifteen-year-long journey. In 2011, the Russian Ministry of Defense chose Sukhoi to design a highly advanced attack and reconnaissance UAV. Sukhoi and MiG worked together at the Novosibirsk Aeronautical Production Association and finally introduced the S-70 in 2017, featuring its innovative flying wing design.

The drone has exceeded expectations since then, successfully performing test flights and demonstrating its operational capability alongside the Su-57 fighter. This evaluation helped to assess long-range avionics and weapons systems.

The future of air dominance and UAV integration

Russian Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B drone could Dominate

The Hunter-B, weighing 20 tons and powered by the AL-31 turbojet engine — the same engine that powers the Su-27 fighter — is capable of flying at speeds over 620 mph and can cover a distance of up to 3,730 miles.

According to reports, the S-70 is capable of carrying the Kh-59 Mk2 cruise missile and other weapons, which could have a significant impact on future air operations.

The S-70 and Su-57 stealth fighter operating together, as envisioned, reflect similar strategies to those of the US Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance program. Andrey Yelchaninov of the Russian Military-Industrial Commission highlighted the future ability to control multiple Okhotnik drones from a single Su-57. This promises synergy between manned and unmanned aircraft in unprecedented combat formations.

Advances and challenges in the AI ​​connection of UAV systems

Russian defense giant Rostec has been perfecting the artificial intelligence technology underpinning the innovative connection between the S-70 UAV and the Su-57 fighter.

This connection, essential for joint operation as a faithful wingman, is based on a data link robust against interference through the use of advanced encryption and parallel transmission channels.

The architecture of this technology encompasses data interleaving methods, precise transfer synchronization and multi-directional transmission capabilities, thus optimizing communication efficiency and expanding the scope of shared information.

In response to the invasion of Ukraine, the international community has severely restricted Russian capabilities through economic sanctions, directly impacting defense production. Shortages of critical components such as microchips have forced Russia to look for ingenious solutions, including recycling domestic electronic components to keep its arsenal operational.

Production of the S-70 faces significant uncertainties due to these limitations. Russia’s dependence on imports, especially from Iran, for its UAVs, illustrates an effort to cope with imposed limitations.

This external support could be key in the future development of the Hunter-B, although the Russian practice of exaggerating its military capabilities raises questions about the feasibility and timeliness of deploying the S-70 on the battlefield, especially given the current difficulties in the context of the Ukrainian conflict.