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russia Mentions Its Rare Orion UAV in the Testing Phase of the Modernized Version

The Orion UAV / Illustrative photo from open sources
The Orion UAV / Illustrative photo from open sources

What is this enemy drone, and why does it deserve special attention?

russian specialized resources state that the next stage of testing for the modernized version of the Orion reconnaissance-strike UAV, also known as "Inokhodets," is currently taking place.

It is claimed that the modernized Orion UAV differs from the basic version by having the electro-optical station positioned closer to the center of the fuselage, while other possible differences remain unknown.

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Interestingly, the russian Ministry of Defense first revealed this modernized version of the Orion unmanned combat aerial vehicle in one of its videos back in February 2023.

The modernized version of the Orion UAV, Defense Express
The modernized version of the Orion UAV during testing in the skies over Taganrog, June 2024 / Open source photo

Against this backdrop, it is entirely reasonable to question why this russian reconnaissance-strike UAV is still "stuck" in the testing phase and why it was necessary to move the electro-optical station closer to the center of the fuselage.

However, regardless of the available data, any information about the russian Orion drone always attracts attention. Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, this UAV was the only traditional reconnaissance-strike complex at the disposal of the russian army.

The modernized version of the Orion UAV, Defense Express
The modernized version of the Orion UAV, February 2023 / Open source photo

According to open sources, by the end of 2021, the russian army had only one system with three Orion UAVs at its disposal.

Meanwhile, the authors of the Oryx portal have counted that during the full-scale war against Ukraine, the russians have lost at least five drones of this type. This also indicates that the production of russian Orions has continued to some extent after February 2022.

The Orion is 8 meters long and a wingspan of 16 meters. The maximum take-off weight is 1000 kg; the maximum declared combat load is up to 180 kg.

The radius of action is up to 250 km; the declared flight duration is up to 24 hours, provided that the payload does not exceed 60 kg. (that is, either two bombs of 20 kg each or one bomb weighing 50 kg). The cruising speed is declared in the range of 120-200 km/h.

Orion unmanned combat aerial vehicles, Defense Express
Orion unmanned combat aerial vehicles / Open-source archive photo

In August of last year, unverified data was announced claiming that russia could potentially produce up to 45 Orion strike UAVs within one year. By November 2023, an interesting detail emerged: new production capacities for Orion drones had increased alongside capacities for producing Kh-101 cruise missiles.

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