Training check

Russian military tested new unmanned systems during a military exercise

The last year’s conflict with Georgia demonstrated that the Russian troops don’t have modern unmanned systems. Now the Russian Defense Ministry tries to improve this situation. It has already purchased 14 unmanned systems from Israel Aerospace Industries, including middle class Searcher МК II UAVs and portable Bird Eye 400 systems. However, according to Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin, purchase of foreign UAVs does not mean giving up the domestic developments. "We do not say that we stop all work in this area in our country," says Popovkin.
The Defense Ministry also keeps studying products of Russian designers. Thus, several domestically developed unmanned systems were tested in September 2009, during the Zapad-2009 military exercise – the largest maneuvers since the Soviet era.
Dozor-100 UAV developed by St. Petersburg Tranzas company in the class of tactical unmanned systems was tested by the Defense Ministry for the first time. This new system was unveiled this summer at International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg. Dozor-100 represents an aircraft designed according to a normal airplane configuration with V-shaped tail assembly and pushing propeller. The maximum takeoff weight of the UAV is 95 kilograms, the wingspan is 5.4 meters. The system includes three UAVs and a ground control post. The UAV can perform both autonomous flights and remotely-controlled flights with duration of up to ten hours. The optical and thermal imaging system of the UAV includes a high-resolution video camera and a thermal imager of the middle infrared band mounted on a moving platform.
During the military exercise Dozor-100 UAV performed two flights for detection and identification of ships of the opposed enemy in the area of the exercise in neutral waters of the Baltic Sea. During the flights the UAV transmitted images from a distance of 50 kilometers.
The first flight lasted for about two hours. This time Dozor-100 flew 300 kilometers. The UAV took off from the airfield located 20 kilometers from the main control station and was guided by the temporary control post. As the aircraft was approaching the mission area, the flight control was handed over to the main control post. Thus the designers demonstrated a possibility to transmit the information from the UAV to the ground equipment located at a significant distance from the takeoff-landing site. In the future this feature will allow transmitting the information from the UAV to a portable computer of any unit commander located in the coverage area.
The second flight with a similar mission was performed on the next day. The only difference was that the lower edge of clouds was at an altitude of 600 meters, so the flight was performed at 500 meters altitude.
Another UAV tested during Zapad-2009 was Strekoza mini-UAV developed by Izhevsk-based ZALA Aero Systems. This is a portable compact system that includes two UAVs and a compact control station with a spare set of batteries for the UAV. The Strekoza UAV is designed according to "flying wing" configuration and has a wingspan of just 80 centimeters and takeoff weight of 2.1 kilograms. The range of the UAV is 15 kilometers. Batteries of the UAV enable it to perform flights with duration of up to 100 minutes. Payload may include video and photo cameras and a thermal imager.
Strekoza system is designed to be used in the first line of reconnaissance. Twenty flights were performed during Zapad-2009 exercise in Kaliningrad Region and 45 flights were performed in Belarus.
Practically all flights of both Dozor-100 and Strekoza UAVs were performed in adverse meteorological conditions with low clouds and wind speed of 10-11 m/s with gusts of up to 15 m/s, which confirmed a high level of reliability of the offered systems.
Interestingly, the UAV systems, tested by the military, were developed at expense of the designers and not financed by the Russian Defense Ministry. This evidently confirms the recent trend when in some areas the Defense Ministry moves from financing of R&D programs to procurement of the ready-to-purchase systems available on the market.   

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