Russia’s most powerful Orion UAV was shot down by Ukraine’s air defenses is true, this is a huge loss for Moscow because currently they only have 6 of these UAVs are operational.
For the first time in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, a Russian Orion MALE UAV was downed by the Ukrainian Air Defences”. Orion combat UAV is the most advanced UAV in service with the Russian armed forces.
The Russian drone was shot down by an anti-aircraft missile. The incident happened on April 7, but the Ukrainian Air Force Command did not immediately announce it because it was related to security and concealment factors.
In addition to the drone above, the Ukrainian side also said that during the battle, a cruise missile and an armed helicopter of the Russian Army were also shot down.
Most likely, the aforementioned Orion UAV took off from an airport near Feodosia on the Crimean peninsula.
On the modern battlefield, the role of armed drones is extremely important as it performs both reconnaissance and direct fire support in an extremely effective way.
For example U.S. MQ-1 Predator models along with the US MQ-9 Reaper, they have very high reliability, extremely long endurance in the sky, and can carry powerful and special weapons. It is very cheap compared to manned aircraft.
In the field of combat drones, Russia is proving to be quite lagging behind the US, even China when the UAVs they built (even with help from Israel) are still criticized. Russian UAVs are not good at features or technology.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Orion was tested for strike missions in 2019 in Syria. In 2020, the Russian Defence Ministry received the first batch of Orion drones for trial operation.
On 4 March 2022, as part of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the modified armed Orion performed an airstrike on Aidar Battalion’s command center in the Donetsk Oblast. On 9 April, Orion performed six succesfull recorded kills on Ukrainian vehicles.
The new generation of Russian drones has a wingspan of 16 m and a length of 8 m, a maximum take-off weight of 1 ton, and a maximum payload of up to 200 kg of weapons and military equipment. This is Russia’s most powerful UAV when the S-70 Okhotnik and Altius are actually still prototypes.
The ceiling of the Orion UAV reaches 7.5 km and the maximum flight time is about 24 hours with a standard payload, the average flight speed is up to 200 km/h.
A complete Orion drone system includes four to six UAVs, ground control stations, automated take-off and landing systems, and associated communications equipment.
Even the manufacturer announced that the Orion armed drone is capable of controlling a whole group of other small UAVs, forming an extremely powerful combined combat team.
In addition, it also provides target designation data, creates terrain images and finds out enemy communication centers as well as hiding places for air defense missile systems.