Russia's sky giant: Mass production of menacing S‑70 Ochotnik drone could start this year
Russia began advertising its progress on the S-70 Ochotnik years ago. It is safe to assume that these efforts have recently amplified. Several testing phases have been completed. In July 2023, a peculiar airborne object was sighted over Ukraine; it might have been one of the new Russian unmanned aircraft prototypes.
Is the S-70 Ochotnik slated for production this year?
Defence Express, a Ukrainian military-focused portal, covers the latest news out of Moscow. They report that the S-70 Ochotnik will enter mass production in the coming months, even though production was not anticipated to begin before 2025.
The war in Ukraine has come to be known as the drone war, with both sides deploying unmanned aircraft extensively. This includes simple small-scale models and large and comparatively more complex designs. The focus often shifts to these drones as they can inflict substantial losses on the enemy. Earlier, Ukrainians attacked a gas terminal in Ust-Luga and the Szczegłowski Shaft factory in Tula using drones.
The Russians, often basing their designs on Iranian Shahed drones, are developing their unique models. These include the Eleron T-16 and the S-70 Ochotnik. Due to its proportions, the latter is rightly termed a sky giant. It is predicted to have a nearly 65-foot wingspan, a total length of about 46 feet, and a takeoff weight of up to 25 tons.
The S-70 Ochotnik: Russia's formidable drone
Manufactured by Sukhoi Corporation, the drone features a flying-wing design and utilizes stealth technology for lower detectability. It is projected to achieve a top speed of roughly 870 mph, with a cruising speed of around 560 miles. The S-70 Ochotnik's maximum operational altitude is estimated to be approximately 34,500 feet.
The drone's payload is anticipated to weigh about 3 tons. It will likely be equipped with the arsenal familiar from Su-57 fighter aircraft, including missile systems like the Kh-58USHK and Kh-38M or bombs KAB-250 and KAB-500M. It's plausible that the S-70 Ochotnik could also deliver the Kh-35 Uran missiles, which are used to target naval assets, and even hypersonic weapons such as the Kinzhal. Known prototypes have so far used an AL-41F1 turbofan engine.