Sukhoi to focus efforts on UAV development
By Gareth Jennings
Russian design bureau Sukhoi is to direct its near-term attention away from manned combat aircraft to focus on the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), state media said on 13 November.
The move follows a strategic call made by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June for the indigenous development of a range of strike and reconnaissance UAVs. "We need a programme for unmanned aircraft. Experts say this is a most important area of development in aviation," he said at the time, adding: "We need a range of all types, including automated strike aircraft, reconnaissance, and other types."
RIA Novosti reported at the time that the Russian government will earmark about RUB400 billion (USD12.6 billion) on UAV development over the next eight years.
Despite being new to the field, Sukhoi already has three UAVs currently in development. Designated ZOND-1, ZOND-2, and ZOND-3M, these platforms share the same basic airframe that resembles a cross between the US Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) platform and the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-1 Predator/MQ-9 Reaper medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) platform.178 of 321 words
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