Seen during earlier trials, the Okhotnik recently conducted its first precision-guided missile launches during tests. (Russian MoD)
Russia's Sukhoi S-70B Okhotnik (Hunter) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) has conducted its first test launch of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) against ground targets, state media reported on 28 May.
Citing an unnamed source, RIA Novosti said that air-to-surface missiles developed for the manned Sukhoi Su-57 (NATO reporting name ‘Felon‘) fifth-generation combat aircraft were fired by the S-70B during the trial.
Although not identified in the report, it is likely that the missile was the Kh-59MK2 standoff cruise missile, which is a development of the Kh-59-series heavy tactical missile that entered service in the early 1980s.
Although advertised to have a maximum range of 250 km, the model variant of the missile developed for the Russian military is thought to have a substantially longer range that is closer to 500 km. The 4.2 m-long missile is of stealth design and has folding wings and fins to enable it to be carried inside an internal weapons bay. The Kh-59MK2 is guided by an inertial navigation system corrected by Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite navigation systems during the cruise phase, and an electro-optical digital scene matching area correlator system in the terminal phase. The missile is reported to have a circular error probable of 3–5 m.
In December 2020 RIA Novosti said that Okhotnik conducted tests with simulation air-to-air missiles fitted with both infrared (IR) and radar seekers, but without rocket engines and warheads, to test the UCAV's fire-control systems. The testing was conducted at the 185th Combat Application and Training Centre of the Russian Aerospace Forces, more commonly known as the Ashuluk training range.