Russia has just used drone swarms for the first time in its Kavkaz-2020 training exercise. The country used various drones to provide surveillance of enemy soldiers, command centers, weapons, and military equipment to better aim airstrikes.

The three drones used in the training exercise were the Forpost drones commonly known as the IAI Searcher, the Orlan-10, and the Eleron-3. The drones fly at heights from about 328 feet to 16,400 feet, depending on the use-case.

The Russian Defense Ministry said:

“At the Kapustin Yar proving ground a combined group of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) was created. It incorporated Southern Military District units armed with drones Forpost, Orlan-10, Eleron-3, and others.”

The drones don’t appear to be equipped with any ammunition or weaponry and are purely for reconnaissance, surveillance, and intelligence collection. The drones will allow airstrikes and other ground-based attacks to be more accurate than current methods allow.

Kavkaz-2020 goes from September 21- 26 and sees around 80,000 personal from the Russian Army, up to 100 soldiers from Armenia, Belarus, China, Myanmar and Pakistan, and representatives from Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Sri Lanka. The massive event is a real-world training session made to mimic real combat. There are estimated to be around 250 tanks, 450 mechanized infantry fighting vehicles, and 200 rocket systems.

The drones

IAI Searcher

The IAI Searcher is a reconnaissance drone produced by the Israeli company Israel Aerospace Industries. The drone is capable of flying for 18 hours with a maximum speed of 125 miles per hour. It can hold a 150-pound payload and uses a Limbach L 550 engine that puts out 47 horsepower.

Orlan-10

The Orlan-10 is a Russian-made reconnaissance drone, produced by the Special Technology Center for the Russian Army. The Orlan-10 has a top speed of about 93 miles per hour and can stay in the air for 16 hours. To get the drone in the air, a catapult is used to shoot it in the sky where the engine takes over. The drone can hold a 13-pound payload and is therefore much smaller than the IAI Searcher.

Eleron-3

The Eleron-3 is also a fixed-wing drone like the other two but is manufactured by Russian company, ENICS. The drone has a maximum flight speed of around 80 miles per hour and can fly for up to 100 minutes per battery. The drone has a maximum range of over 31 miles when no external equipment is used and can fly at a maximum height of 16,400 feet.

Drone swarms

While most think of drone swarms and drones that blow themselves up upon impact when it comes to the army, we have actually been using them in the entertainment business for the last few years in the form of drone light shows. These friendly drone swarms have lit up the Super Bowl, Britain’s Got Talent, and have even thanked the frontline workers in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo: Vadim Savitsky

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