The Rise of the Colossus of Heaven: The Formidable Heavy Assault Drone

In this theater of military operations, a creature without equality has arisen. Hailing from the workshops of renowned Russian drone firm Kronshtadt before the Russian bear snarled menacingly at Ukraine, this prodigy from the sky is known as “Sirius.” Its name is a tribute to the brightest star that graces our nights. Sirius is the big brother to the bold Orion single-engine combat drone, which has already thrown itself into the thick of the conflict.

Samuel Bendett, an expert in Russian autonomous systems and a teacher in artificial intelligence, attached to the Center for Naval Analysis and the insightful CNAS think tank, has left his thoughts on the pages of Pop Mech:

The Rise of Russian Might: Sirius, the Chosen of Heaven

“The Sirius descended from the rugged lineage of the Russian military industry, emerges in a lull, alongside the formidable Helios long-range reconnaissance drone and other projects tirelessly forged by Kronstadt.”

“It is anticipated that it will become one of the pillars that will elevate Russia to the heights of the powers of the unmanned skies, rubbing shoulders with the United States, Israel and China. As a sublime evolution of Orion, Sirius has cemented its position in virtually every conceivable facet.”

The Awakening of Russia in the Kingdom of Drones

The Power of Sirius
The Russian drone Orion-E MALE

Russia’s foray into the drone battlefield began with the Inkhodets (“Orion”), a heavily armed Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) marvel, which began rolling off production lines in 2021. , just a year before Putin unleashed his fury on Ukrainian soil.

This disconcerting revelation starkly contrasts the fact that the US was already deploying powerful combat drones (UCAVs) to the Afghan theater two decades ago.

Russia’s delay in joining the party allowed China, Israel, Turkey and even Iran to occupy a large share of the killer drone market for years, at least for those countries that did not have access to the US lethal machine.

The Birth of Sirius

The 2019 MAKS Air Show was the setting for the presentation of a Sirius mock-up. Subsequently, in November 2021, construction began on its flying incarnation. Although it was scheduled to enter the battlefield in the year 2023, surprisingly, on February 27, it launched into the vast sky for the first time, according to a classified document that inadvertently escaped from the secret corridors of the Pentagon.

Sirius has been transformed in several key aspects, including a notable increase in its range of action and the ability to incorporate a satellite communications antenna (SATCOM), allowing its control over considerable distances. In addition, this aerial colossus is capable of carrying larger and more destructive bombs and missiles, generally reserved for manned combat aircraft.

Among its arsenal are the deadly 1,100-pound RBK-500U cluster bombs and ODAB-500PMV aerial devices loaded with highly flammable explosives. In addition, the flying monster is equipped with a synthetic aperture radar that allows it to map the terrain and locate ground targets, including artillery vehicles.

A versatile weapon for multiple scenarios

It is speculated that the Sirius will be presented in three variants: one intended for assault, another exclusively for espionage work and a third designed to patrol the oceans.

Under the command of the Russian Navy, this latest version will carry payloads for anti-submarine operations, search and rescue, maritime reconnaissance and signal repetition. Its origin is in the Dubna facility, located 55 miles north of Moscow.

In the midst of war and a shortage of funds, Russia is about to launch its new combat drone, the Sirius. Although some question its satellite communication capabilities, it is expected to be a powerful addition to its military arsenal. Meanwhile, Russian UCAVs have had some success, but they are far from matching the deadly impact of Bayraktar drones. Will Sirius be able to turn the tide of the war?

The Sirius: A Promising Advance

After investing considerable resources in its development, Russia is in the final stages of preparing for serial production of the Sirius combat drone. Although the war has affected funding for research and development, Sirius is closer than many imagined. According to experts, the drone is expected to be mostly of domestic origin, highlighting Russia’s commitment to military innovation.

The debate over whether Sirius will be equipped with standard satellite communication antennas has raged among analysts. While there is no certainty on this, it is believed that the drone will likely have this capability, allowing it to maintain effective strategic communication during battlefield missions.

Russian UCAVs: Mixed Results

Russian Orion UCAVs have shown some effectiveness on the battlefield, but their impact is considerably less than the fearsome attacks of Bayraktar drones. Videos documenting the destruction of enemy vehicles, including trucks, towed guns, and tanks, have been recorded. However, Orion’s results pale in comparison to the deadly attacks of enemy drones.

On the other hand, Russia’s Lancet kamikaze drones have been highly successful in their ramming. The videos capture the destructive power of these drones, which have inflicted significant damage on the enemy. While footage of Orion UCAV strikes has greatly diminished, shocking video from Lancet kamikaze drones has kept attention on the battlefield.

Challenges and limitations

Despite the partial achievements of the Russian UCAVs, challenges and limitations have been identified that have held back their full potential. One of the main problems is the reliance on Russian navigation satellites, known as GLONASS. Some experts doubt that these satellites are in optimal conditions to guarantee the precise navigation of drones in long-distance flights. Although Sirius has access to both GPS and other satellite navigation systems, this uncertainty raises questions about its performance in extended-range operations.

Another crucial factor is the evolution of land anti-aircraft defense. During the first weeks of the war, the lack of solid cover allowed Orion UCAVs to carry out attacks with some impunity. However, once full-ground anti-aircraft defense was established, the survivability of the UCAVs was seriously compromised. Their lack of strong defenses made them vulnerable to enemy anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems.

Sirius could change the inconsequential record of Russian drones.

Although Russian combat drones have had mixed performances, the upcoming Sirius debut promises to be a milestone in warfare. Russia has invested significantly in this project, and the drone is expected to prove itself on the battlefield. As series production progresses, Sirius could turn the tide of war and cement Russia’s role as a military power on the world stage.

Information about these advances and challenges in the field of combat drones can be found in various digital media. Imported from the depths of Twitter, this content reveals additional information and presents other formats for analysis and discussion. However, footage of Orion UCAV strikes has largely disappeared, indicating a shift in the development and use of these drones in the current conflict.

The power of Sirius: A new era for UCAVs in Russia?

Introduction: Medium-altitude combat drones have proven their effectiveness in confrontations against insurgents and less equipped armies.

However, as a state adversary with more advanced air defense systems and resources, such as the fearsome Buk, S-300, and other lethal systems such as the 9K33 Osa, Russia’s MALE drones may be at risk when flying at low speed and high altitude.

The Sirius: The New Russian Bet for air dominance

The exorbitant cost of several million dollars for each UCAV unit is a determining factor in its use as of June 2, 2023, at least 19 Bayraktars have been confirmed lost by Ukraine, four Orions, and other UCAVs by Russia.

Although the Sirius surpasses the Orion in terms of range and payload capacity, it will face similar challenges in terms of survivability in the Ukrainian conflict.

However, the Sirius could provide Russia with additional capabilities in the field of reconnaissance, surveillance, and delivery of more powerful and longer-range weapons. In addition, she can ensure superiority in areas far from Ukrainian anti-aircraft defenses and complement Russian fighter attacks with joint ISR operations.

The Sirius in the Black Sea: A strategic domain

The Black Sea becomes the perfect setting to take advantage of the Sirius’ range and payload capacity, given that land-based anti-air defenses are less prominent and the Ukrainian Navy lacks warships with high-altitude air defense systems.

The effectiveness of the UCAVs was demonstrated last spring when Ukrainian Bayraktar drones devastated the Russian garrison on Snake Island and held the relief ships in check until they were forced to evacuate.

Thus, Russia could use Sirius to gain a strategic advantage in the Black Sea, detecting and destroying Ukraine’s unmanned kamikaze boats harassing Crimea and pursuing its manned patrol boats. In addition, she could monitor the activities of Ukrainian commercial shipping and closely follow the movements of NATO ships in the Baltic Sea and the Sea of ​​Japan.

Sirius limitations and challenges in Ukraine

While these maritime operations could prove useful, it is important to note that they would remain secondary to the larger military challenges Russia faces in Ukraine. In this sense, it is probable that the impact of Sirius in the change of situation is limited.