Russia hopes for success on the UCAV market with its Orion-E drone


The Kronshtadt company, the leading Russian UAV developer and producer, will unveil at the Dubai Airshow 2021 the Orion-E MALE drone in the reconnaissance/strike configuration. It will be the first ever demonstration of the Russian combat UAV at the major international airshow and the first demonstration of the Orion-E on the Middle East.

This seems to be a breakthrough for Russia’s aero industry and for the Kronshtadt, since earlier Moscow did not have in its export portfolio any UCAVs at all. With the Orion-E, which will debut in Dubai along with weapons (Vikhr guided missile and an aerial bomb), Russia is entering the elite UCAV exporters’ club. Moscow could hope for the success of the drone on the global market not least thanks to the Orion’s already publicized combat record – in 2021 the Russian TV showed it hitting the militant targets in Syria. Also the UAV has open architecture, which simplifies installation of payloads and fulfillment of other operator requirements. At the ARMY 2021 expo the Kronshtadt said, that it was eager to localize the production of its drones abroad.

The Kronshtadt is also to show in Dubai on the unified Russian exposition organized by Rosoboronexport its new automated workplace for UAV group operations that’s never been previously shown at any exhibition.

The Orion-E is intended for performing missions in a wide range of climate zones. The maximum take-off weight is 1.1 t, the maximum payload weight is 250 kg. The flight duration can reach 30 hours, the speed – 200 km/h. The Orion-E is equipped with replaceable payloads built in line with modular principle, including the sensor payloads for the ISR mission. Laser-, satellite- and TV-guided air weapons can be used.

The Orion-E is equipped with satellite communication (SATCOM) system that provides application and data exchange with the UAV at unlimited distance from the GCS, thus boosting its range.

At the MAKS-2021 airshow the Orion-E was exhibited along with the Vikhr guided missile, produced by the Kalashnikov Group. According to the Kalashnikov, the Vikhr is capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 10 kilometers, its speed is more than 600 meters per second. In May Kalashnikov announced the successful flight trials of the Vikhr missiles with a series of launches performed by a Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter. The single missile type could boost the market promotion of both products, the Orion-E and the Ka-52, as well as make the drone attractive for the gunship’s potential operators.