Russian Attack Drone Being Developed, But There Are Problems

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
October 7, 2013 Updated: October 7, 2013

A new Russian attack drone is slated to be completed by 2018, but there are problems.

Russia has the potential to develop advanced drones, but is having trouble even completing a one-ton drone, which has been in development since 2011, reported

The Russian attack drone just announced is supposed to weigh at least 20 tons.

Another drone, which won’t weigh more than 5 tons, is supposed to be completed by the end of 2017.

One expert who spoke to the Russian news agency, though, claim Russia isn’t “lagging behind in this arena.”

“From the point of view of theory, engineering and design ideas, we are not in the last place in the world,” said Vladimir Anokhin, vice president of the Russian Academy of Geopolitical Issues.

“We have wonderful teams that have spent decades working on this. But we do not have enough hands. We do not have the industrial base, we do not have skilled workers who could produce a massive amount of those drones that we need so much now.”

Denis Fedutinov, a Russian expert in the field of unmanned systems, said that while the development of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, has been somewhat neglected in Russia, the government is trying to fix this by funding the development.

One of the companies working on the drones did show a 10-ton prototype at an airshow a couple of years ago, said Fedutinov.

In early 2012, the Russian Defense Ministry reportedly gave state-owned Russian Helicopters $158 million to develop a series of drones, according to Daniel Vajdic of the American Enterprise Institute. Through 2010 the country had invested about $172 million in a range of drone designs, but none of them met the standards the Russian military was looking for.

The Russians became intrigued with the potential of drones after seeing Israeli drones in action in Georgia. Later in 2009, the Russians bought 12 early generation reconnaissance drones from Israel, and a year later, the Israel Aerospace Industries and Russia’s Oboronprom made a deal to manufacture one of Isreal’s drones in Russia.

Russia may have obtained designs to build its own drones from Iran, who said in 2011 that Russian experts were allowed to inspect U.S. drones that had downed in Tehran.

“That Iran possessed U.S. drones was questionable in June [2011]. However, doubts were dispelled last month [December 2011] when the Islamic Republic revealed an RQ-170 Sentinel apparently recovered by hacking into its control system. I wouldn’t be surprised if future Russian drones bear a striking resemblance to the Sentinel.”

As an example of the types of drones Russia is using, a drone about 20 meters long was found in Kazakhstan in April of this year. The wreckage was given back to Russia.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.