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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.

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