During a recent visit by Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of russia's Security Council, to the Moscow Rudnevo Industrial Park, he was guided through the production of the Termit helicopter-type attack drone.
The video report draws particular attention to this episode of Medvedev's business trip and thus deserves a closer look.
The Termit UAV is produced by NPP Strela, which is part of the Kronshtadt group of companies.
A contract for an undisclosed number of Termit drones was signed in 2021 with a relatively short delivery deadline. The video displayed around a dozen UAVs at various assembly stages, with three of them nearing completion.
The Termit drone, unveiled in 2020, initially aimed to conclude all tests by the end of 2021, followed by deliveries to the russian army starting 2022. But the project was delayed.
The whole idea was to make an unmanned combat helicopter with new guided rockets, and the first test launches of this weapon were performed only in November 2021.
The guided rocket in question is the S-8L, a modified S-8 dumb rocket. It uses semi-active laser guidance, basically in the same way as the American APKWS but with a greater degree of remodeling within the original rocket.
The S-8L has two additional units — with folding wings in the middle of the body and a homing head in the nose — whereas the U.S.-made APKWS combines both of these elements into one module attached to the source rocket. The S-8L's maximum attack range is 6 km; it carries a high-explosive fragmentation warhead.
During military exhibitions, the Termit drone was displayed with three launchers.
Also, the Termit must be equipped with a targeting pod on the rotorcraft's nose to guide the rockets, but none are visible in the production facility video.
Speaking of the rotorcraft in general, Termit's predecessor is the BVS-VT 450 unmanned helicopter, which NPP Strela began developing back in 2016. Termit is the combat version, and there is also a civilian one called the SmartHELI-450.
Most likely, the military drone inherited the specifications of its original, as follows: maximum take-off weight 450 kg, empty weight 270 kg, maximum speed 150 km/h, cruising speed 90 km/h, service ceiling 3,500 m, and maximum flight duration is 6 hours. All data is according to russian sources.
Worth noting, it is quite difficult to assess whether this is just another video report for propaganda purposes or if it shows a real production.
The reason to doubt any progress with this project stems from the fact that russia started developing and contracting Termit drones before its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, some of the components used in the production could have fallen under international sanctions and became unobtainable, especially engines and electronics.
Additionally, the combat effectiveness of Termit relies on the availability and serial production of S-8L missiles, and there has been no news about it for a while now.
Regardless, the demonstration of these drones should be taken into account. They may end up in Ukrainian frontlines eventually, even as part of "trial by fire" tests. Moreover, it is a signal calling for tighter sanctions against the russian federation.
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