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Current Russian UAVs were designed during the Soviet era

Drones and UAVs are a key part of the U.S. Military's reconnaissance gathering capabilities. Drones used for recon are small aircraft that are hard to see on radar and capable of loitering around a target for hours on end without risking the lives of U.S. soldiers in the process. The U.S. military also plans to use drones to help resupply troops in remote locations.

While the U.S. has very advanced UAV's in its arsenal, Russia is laboring with UAV technology that is years behind the United States. Defense Technology International (DTI) reports that most of the Russian UAVs in service were designed in the Soviet era and are obsolete.

The UAVs in the Russian military are so obsolete that they are rarely used. Last summer, Russians used an old Tu-22 bomber to perform a recon mission, and the bomber was subsequently shot down while on the mission. DTI reported that using the ancient Tu-22 bomber for a manned recon mission was the equivalent to the 21st century version of a cavalry charge.

The Russian military are testing several more modern UAVs for integration into its arsenal. Among the designs being considered are the Tipchak from the Luch design bureau of Rybinsk. The aircraft is a 110-pound BLA-05 drone that is catapult launched and powered by a 12 HP piston engine. The 2.4-meter long aircraft has a 3.4-meter wingspan and carries TV/infrared cameras for up to 43 miles and has a three-hour flight time -- top speed is pegged at 124 MPH.

The Transas company is also demonstrating its UAV to the Russian military called the Dozor-4. Dozor-4 has a ceiling of 3,000 meters and has a 12.5kg payload that includes a digital camera and thermal imager. The aircraft is capable of beaming imagery in real-time for up to 100km from its base station. Images taken are automatically plotted onto a digital map using TopoAxis software from the company after returning from its mission.

The Dozer-4 was reportedly used in a search-and-rescue mission during its demonstration to assist in finding a competitors downed UAV. Dozor-4 flew at 1500 meters altitude for over 75 KM searching for the downed UAV. The Dozor-4 was ultimately recommended for Russia's UAV platform.

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43 miles?
By ravish on 3/23/2009 2:54:29 PM , Rating: 2
The 2.4-meter long aircraft has a 3.4-meter wingspan and carries TV/infrared cameras for up to 43 miles at 124 MPH with a three-hour flight time.

43 miles? I don't understand.

124 miles x 3 hours = 372 miles.

RE: 43 miles?
By Brandon Hill on 3/23/2009 2:57:38 PM , Rating: 2
I would think that 124 MPH is its maximum speed. I doubt many UAVs fly along at their top speed.

RE: 43 miles?
By quiksilvr on 3/24/2009 3:21:01 AM , Rating: 1
Indeed. You wouldn't want it to maintain that speed otherwise its heat signature would increase thus making it get picked up by radar.

RE: 43 miles?
By jarman on 3/24/2009 9:13:50 AM , Rating: 2
Heat signature /= RCS

RE: 43 miles?
By Chemical Chris on 3/23/2009 3:18:44 PM , Rating: 2
I also believe that a 3 hour flight time is more than 43 miles. The wording in the article is a little confusing, but as other UAV's had their maximum distance they could transmit data listed, I would assume that it could transmit data up to 43 miles (~65km), but could travel a few hundred km flight path, never being more than 43 miles away from the ground station.


RE: 43 miles?
By Mootang on 3/23/2009 7:08:51 PM , Rating: 5
I'm guessing the 43 miles figure is how far from the base station it can travel. Range...

As usual with DailyTech, they probably took another news article, and rewrote it almost word for word so they can post it without copyright trouble, thus they omitted a crucial word: "range"

I fly model airplanes that are equipped with a live video downlink, and the signal range of your video and radio control links are BY FAR the limiting factor in the distance you can travel. You could probably travel hundreds of miles in circles around the base station, but in a straight line your distance is limited by the range of the least powerful wireless component, whether that be the video feed or the control link.

RE: 43 miles?
By afkrotch on 3/23/2009 8:53:01 PM , Rating: 2
That makes more sense, but 43 miles. Kind of crap range for a UAV. Unless you're base station is very mobile too. Like truck mounted.

Would be a sucky UAV. Having to drive out with your base station, catapult, and your UAV.

RE: 43 miles?
By Hypernova on 3/23/2009 11:52:29 PM , Rating: 2
It probably due to the Russian drones not having a space uplink. If they want this to work all the support equipments better be very road ready.

RE: 43 miles?
By afkrotch on 3/23/2009 8:50:40 PM , Rating: 2
Ya, weird isn't it. Maybe they mean the tv/infrared camera can see up to 43 miles, but that can't be right either.

RE: 43 miles?
By Calin on 3/24/2009 7:12:52 AM , Rating: 2
Radio link up to 43 miles, I think

RE: 43 miles?
By Sinisteer on 3/24/2009 10:16:44 AM , Rating: 2
43 miles is most likely it's noted range based off of it's average fuel consumption. Anything beyond that would risk running out of fuel and losing the UAV entirely. The frequency spectrum most UAV's operate has much more than a 43 mile range.

RE: 43 miles?
By HotFoot on 3/25/2009 11:04:38 AM , Rating: 2
Radio link has my vote as well. These kind of UAVs' performance is usually given in endurance and mission radius, the latter of which is dictated by the radio link. Ferry range is utterly meaningless for these vehicles.

Even still, 4 hours endurance is poor, even for a vechile of this size. I wonder if the issue is a lag in miniaturisation of the electronics, cameras, and data link.

Russia's a little behind.
By Rob94hawk on 3/23/2009 11:08:13 PM , Rating: 3
We already have stealth UAV's that the military is programming to take off and land on aircraft carriers.

Russia thinks their SU-47 is high tech meanwhile that technology is something the US did back in 1979. Plus it's nothing but a big bullseye for missiles. Not stealthy at all.

RE: Russia's a little behind.
By bubba551 on 3/24/2009 8:29:13 AM , Rating: 2
In Russia, UAV pilots you.

RE: Russia's a little behind.
By Captain828 on 3/24/2009 9:30:22 AM , Rating: 2
Your view regarding the Su-47 is pretty wrong...
The Su-47 is high-end tech.

Both the Su-47 and the F-35 are fifth generation fighters that are mostly competing with one another, as they will have similar combat roles whenever they will be deployed.
In fact, thanks to it's design, the "Berkut" is more maneuverable then most 5g planes, including the F-22 and F-35.

Regarding the stealth element, the Su-47 is indeed not a stealth fighter. But given the cost of the plane (~$70M) and compared to the ~$83M of the F-35 it is a fair trade.

[...] meanwhile that technology is something the US did back in 1979.

Do we live in the past... or the present?
Besides, the US hasn't even put all that stealth to good use. What, you need a >$80M fighter to fight some talibans?!

RE: Russia's a little behind.
By Master Kenobi on 3/24/2009 10:43:11 AM , Rating: 2
The SU-47 is still in design phases. With the prototype not even working properly. More maneuverable is subjective since the damn thing doesn't even fly effectively. Russian designers are currently replacing the wings with something more traditional rather than the idiotic forward swept wing design.

RE: Russia's a little behind.
By inperfectdarkness on 3/24/2009 12:03:27 PM , Rating: 3

the su-47 is more of a "me too!" idea than anything else. it IS much more advanced than the x29 & the less extreme forward-swept design is undoubtedly less prone to torsional forces than the grumman design.

i find it quite humorous how quickly people seem to belittle the f22's abilities as "inferior" to other fighters. it is this mentality which has convinced our politicians--that DESPITE what our top brass keeps saying--we don't need more f22's.

we pay a premium on the f22 because it is THAT much better than any other fighter in the world. bar none. in fact--the only "simulated shoot-downs" that have ever happened to an f22 have ALL been due to pilot error. period. even so-called 4.5 gen fighters (super hornet/su-30mkk/strike-eagle/etc) are no match. the f22 is SO can pair 2 of them with 8 f15-c's...and your probable kill ratio of the f15c more than triples in our advantage. our dis-similar training has shown that many times--agressor pilots are simulated DEAD before they even have situational awareness on the f22. that's also why we don't use them as agressors--they're TOO good. f15-->f22: it's like going from driving the transmission in a 1955 bel-air to driving the transmission of a 2009 corvette zr1.

we need continued funding for new airframes. you can turn a civilian into a footsoldier in <6 months; but to bring a new, better, more advanced airplane into service requires >10 years of work. which means--if we want to have warfighting capabilities (in the air) 10 years from now--we need to fund our fleet TODAY.

RE: Russia's a little behind.
By maven81 on 3/24/2009 12:41:54 PM , Rating: 2
i find it quite humorous how quickly people seem to belittle the f22's abilities as "inferior" to other fighters. it is this mentality which has convinced our politicians--that DESPITE what our top brass keeps saying--we don't need more f22's.

Or maybe they just realized that sometimes an expensive high tech solution is not required when a lower tech solution works fine. (you'd think the space shuttle would have taught people this lesson, but I guess not). Remember the F-117? Invisible to everything, could not be shut down, until it got shut down? Everything looks amazing on paper, but in the real world you have to be more pragmatic. And at over 300 million per plane (last I checked) it had better be 5 times more amazing then anything else.

By inperfectdarkness on 3/24/2009 7:28:44 PM , Rating: 2
don't get me started on the f-117 shootdown. we basically HELPED them blow us out of the sky.

regardless, the f117 was a necessary 1st step in stealth technology. considering they were only RECENTLY retired--they served admirably from 1981 for over 25 years; a lifetime compared to our korea/vietnam era planes.

the stealth technology on the f22 is obscenely more advanced than the f117, and even shames the technology on the b2. additionally...we didn't have to compromise f22 design to maximize its radar-dodging abilities--something that was an intrinsic part of f117 design.

you make a horrid assumption that price/performance in weapons systems is a LINEAR relationship. nothing could be further from the truth. the modern ideal behind our military is to "build it significantly better than anything else in existence". we do this because we anticipate (correctly) that we'll be forced to keep these systems in service for a considerable duration. we end up paying MORE...NOW...because we're looking to have these platforms still be relevant & competent 30 years from now.

if the f22 could carry more missiles'd probably be 15 times better than anything else.

Tu-22 or Tu-22M?
By Deaks2 on 3/23/2009 3:42:12 PM , Rating: 5
There is quite a bit of confusion as to which Tu-22 was shot down last year. The original Tu-22 "Blinder", a bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, was retired from Russian service in the 1990's. The Tu-22M "Backfire" is much more modern, similar in capability to the US B1-B Lancer. About a dozen Tu-22MR reconnaissance versions were built in the mid to late 1980s, and I would not consider those to be "ancient" aircraft.

However, I do agree that the lack of a modern UAV fleet did force the Russians to commit a very valuable strategic aircraft to a very risky mission profile.

RE: Tu-22 or Tu-22M?
By afkrotch on 3/24/2009 6:22:07 AM , Rating: 2
The Backfire I wouldn't consider to be all that good as a recon plane, as it was designed to be a bomber and later retro-fitted to do reconnaissance.

I wouldn't call it modern, but I wouldn't call it ancient either.

RE: Tu-22 or Tu-22M?
By inperfectdarkness on 3/24/2009 12:07:02 PM , Rating: 2
negative, ghostrider.

the tu-160 blackjack is the most comperable to the b1-b.

RE: Tu-22 or Tu-22M?
By ivanv4 on 3/24/2009 12:20:29 PM , Rating: 2
Indeed the backfire is more like the f-111

Sooner or later
By AntiM on 3/23/2009 9:54:42 PM , Rating: 3
The Ruskies will obtain design plans for American UAVs, either from some contractor's unsecured desktop or a used iPod off of eBay. They'll probably get all the parts they need off of eBay as well.

doesn't matter anyways
By Guttersnipe on 3/23/2009 7:31:16 PM , Rating: 1
they pay upkeep for their million man standing army so they have plenty of cannon fodder, no need for robots. no money left either way;)

By Farfignewton on 3/23/2009 7:55:53 PM , Rating: 3

Yeah, yeah. Should this come to pass, I'd like a small memorial and a moment of silence to commemorate my sacrifice for the good of humanity. ;)

By Felofasofa on 3/23/2009 8:20:47 PM , Rating: 2
It's more like death to piloted warfare as we know it. The age of buzz-droids is upon us, and it won't be just the military who will have these toys. How far away are we from seeing stealthy UAV's taking off from Columbia and land in the US?

By lilbanhbaoguy on 3/23/2009 8:21:05 PM , Rating: 3
Americans have UAV's that can fly kamikaze missions too. But they don't cost half a million bucks. And they aren't called UAV's or drones.

We call them missiles.

By ManixT on 3/24/2009 7:47:52 AM , Rating: 5
I find it highly unlikely that these drones can exceed the >3700km range of the AGM-129 or even the >2500km range of the BGM-109. Not to mention they're unlikely able to exceed the speed required to get past localized ship defenses (Phalanx, RIM-116, etc..). I also have doubts that Israel would attack its largest ally.

By the way, if you're going to hate America and capitalism so much, you might want to stop using things that have come to fruition there (like the internet, electric lighting, the CPU, trains, refrigerators, motorcycles, telephone, radio, etc..), you wouldn't want people thinking you are a hypocrite. But anyway, don't let me interrupt your hatred of America.


By Chemical Chris on 3/23/2009 10:44:02 PM , Rating: 2
They cost *at least* a half million buxs (more or less). The harpoon is listed at 720K on wiki....
Not cheap to bring death and destruction....but easy!


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