Russian paratrooper divisions will receive unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) within the next three-to-five years, Colonel-General Vladimir Shamanov, Commander of Russia’s Airborne Forces, told journalists on Friday.
“UAV subdivisions already exist within the reconnaissance and special operations sections, in the artillery and the air-defense sections of the Airborne Forces. In line with accepted international practice, we intend to further develop the unmanned component of our forces,” Shamanov said.
He also said that it was the Defense Ministry’s decision to buy Israeli-produced drones that gave Russia the impetus to develop its own.
“Unfortunately, work to create our own UAVs immediately ran into lengthy delays. The Airborne Forces were, and will continue to provide a platform for experimentation in testing new forms of technology” Shamanov continued.
In January, Shamanov oversaw tests on a prototype Russian-made compact reconnaissance complex, named Seeker.
Seeker comprises a base station carried in a rucksack, a tablet computer showing images from the drones’ cameras which also serves as a control unit, and two T-4 unmanned aerial vehicles weighing 1.3 kilograms each.
With 40 minutes endurance, they produce their optimum picture at an altitude of 200 meters, but have a service ceiling of 4,000 meters. They have electric motors and a wingspan of 0.6 meters.
The approximate cost of the Seeker complex, with two drones, is about 3 million rubles, which at today’s exchange rates, works out at about $96,000.