MAKS 2017: Russian MALE UAV Orion-E unveiled

Kronstadt Technologies unveiled the first Russian medium altitude long endurance (MALE) class unmanned aerial system (UAS) prototype, during the MAKS 2017 airshow.

Dubbed the Orion-E, 1 ton class surveillance UAV have been undergoing flight testing in the country since last year and had been revealed earlier through grainy images.

The UAS have an external design similar to the Thales WatchKeeper UAS, albeit with a different fuselage cross section.

With a wingspan of 16 m (52.5ft), the Orion-E is capable of automatic take off and landing, and fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payloads of up to 200 kg.

The fuselage is 8 m long and have high-aspect ratio wings with a V-tail. It can reach a max altitude of 7,500 m and have a range of 250 km.

Similar to the General Dynamics MQ-9 Reaper, forward and the canted main landing gear can be retracted into the fuselage. Orion-E is possibly powered by the 100 hp Saturn 36MT turboprop, which also powers the Indian DRDO Tapas UAV.

The Orion-E can be configured to carry various surveillance payloads including a forward looking infra-red (FLIR) turret, Synthetic aperture radar and high resolution cameras,

According to Kronstadt, the UAS is intended for export market and is expected to be ready by 2020. A more capable and heavier version in the 5-7 ton weight class is also planned to be developed as a follow on, which will have combat capabilities.