The first ever Russian large-seize UAV plant to ramp up the Orion-E project

Dubai Airshow 2021 Orion-E
Orion-E had its international premiere at the Dubai Airshow.

The Kronshtadt company, the leading Russian UAV developer and producer, has created the first national center for the production of large-size unmanned aerial vehicles of aircraft and helicopter types.

The event, officially announced by the company, seems to indicate the seriousness of Russian intentions to enter the elite UCAV producers’ club. The Kronshtadt is the developer and manufacturer of the Orion-E, the first ever Russian export-oriented reconnaissance/strike UAV.

“Сonstruction and installation work has been completed in the production building of the first specialized serial plant of large-size unmanned aerial vehicles in Russia. Construction lasted from April to December 2021 – this is the first aircraft plant built in post-Soviet Russia”, – reported the Kronshtadt.

This November the Orion-E had its international premiere at the Dubai Airshow. It was the first ever demonstration of the Russian combat UAV at the major international expo. Earlier Moscow did not have in its export portfolio any UCAVs at all. The Orion has already publicized combat record – in 2021 the Russian TV showed it hitting the militant targets in Syria. Also the UAV has open architecture, which simplifies installation of payloads and fulfillment of other operator requirements. The Kronshtadt earlier announced that it was eager to localize the production of its drones abroad. In 2020 the company and the Rosoboronexport signed the cooperation agreement, with the Russian special exporter naming Asia-Pacific, Middle East and North Africa as the target markets.

The Orion-E is intended for performing missions in a wide range of climate zones. The maximum take-off weight is 1.1 t, the maximum payload weight is 250 kg. The flight duration can reach 30 hours, the speed – 200 km/h. The Orion-E is equipped with replaceable payloads built in line with modular principle, including the sensor payloads for the ISR mission. Laser-, satellite- and TV-guided air weapons can be used. The drone is equipped with satellite communication (SATCOM) system that provides application and data exchange with the UAV at unlimited distance from the ground control station, thus boosting its range.

On 20th December the Russian MoD announced via its official YouTube channel the first interception by the Orion of the aerial target. The helicopter-type UAV, simulating a maneuvering air target, was destroyed by the air-to-air missile.

In Dubai the Orion-E was exhibited along with the Vikhr guided missile, produced by the Kalashnikov Group. The Vikhr is capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 10 kilometers, its speed is more than 600 meters per second. In May the Kalashnikov reported about the successful flight trials of the missiles with a series of launches performed by a Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter. The single missile type could boost the market promotion of both products, the Orion-E and the Ka-52, as well as make the drone attractive for the gunship’s potential operators.