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.