Drone for the “Centurion”. New means of reconnaissance in a promising BEV

Concept of BEV “Ratnik-3”. Photo by Rostec

Prospective models of weapons, equipment and equipment can attract the attention of foreign experts and the press long before they appear in the army. So, the development of promising combat equipment for the Sotnik (Sotnik) serviceman will soon begin. In the near future, several new components will be created specifically for it. They do not exist yet, but there is already a certain interest in the foreign press.

Reason and reaction

This year, officials several times raised the topic of a promising BEV for the Russian army. So, in the summer it became known about the work on the formation of the appearance of equipment with the code “Sotnik”. The tactical and technical assignment for this BEV will be created by December of this year.

In early October, Rossiyskaya Gazeta published an interview with the commander-in-chief of the ground forces, Army General Oleg Salyukov. He said that research work is now being carried out to form and substantiate the appearance of the new BEV. It is planned to ensure the integration of combat and support robotic systems. Also, the equipment will be compatible with reconnaissance and attack drones of a small class. This will increase situational awareness and simplify the solution of combat missions.

In the wake of this interview, publications on the topic of certain announced new products appeared in specialized foreign media. One of the latter was the article “New Micro-Drones: Russia’s Next Super Weapon?” (“New Micro-Drones: Russia’s Future Superweapon?”) From The National Interest. It carefully studied the topic of UAVs for the future BEV.

TNI writes that the electronic equipment of the equipment can interact with the UAV and the automated control system of the tactical level. Due to this, general information about the situation on the battlefield and the signal from the drone can be issued on special glasses of a military man – a military analogue of the Google Glass gadget.

Some solutions of “Ratnik-3” can find application in “Sotnik”. Photo by Rostec

The American magazine draws attention to the fact that some of the elements of the future “Sotnik” are already ready, but others are just being developed. The equipment is planned to be delivered to the troops from 2025, but such a schedule may be overly optimistic. They want to include a number of complex components in BEV, the creation of which can be seriously delayed and lead to a shift in terms.

According to known data

Recently, officials and the press have repeatedly raised the topic of creating a promising BEV, designed to re-equip troops in the foreseeable future. The main wishes for this project and its possible features are known. At the same time, for objective reasons, a number of features of the project remain unknown.

The first details of the future project “Sotnik” appeared last summer. Then it was reported about the preliminary work and the start of development in 2020. The design was planned to be completed in 2023-25, and after that the BEV was put into service. Central Research Institute Tochmash was supposed to become the lead developer of the project.

Even then, some of the requirements for equipment became known. With its help, it is proposed to hide the fighter from infrared and radar surveillance equipment. The possibility of creating adaptive optical camouflage is also being considered. The existing means of communication and control will receive development, incl. by introducing fundamentally new components and capabilities.

It was last year that they first announced their intention to integrate small reconnaissance UAVs with the ability to display information directly on standard glasses or a helmet visor into the Sotnik. Later on, new details appeared. So, now the possibility of creating not only reconnaissance, but also combat drones is being considered.

An experienced drone from the Kronstadt company. Photo by JSC “Kronstadt”

What should be the UAV for the “Sotnik” – it is not yet clear. Currently, the Ministry of Defense and specialized organizations are working on the development of tactical and technical requirements for a new project, and, probably, the task for the drone is not yet ready. All these processes will continue until the end of this year, after which development work will start.

On an initiative basis

Although the official terms of reference for the UAV for the new BEV is not yet ready, the industry’s enterprises are working on this topic. Moreover, there is already an initiative project of an ultralight drone that meets the characteristic limitations and needs of combat equipment.

A few days ago, the Kronstadt company, known for its medium and heavy UAVs, presented a product of a different category. An apparatus-quadrocopter weighing only 180 g has been developed and is being tested. Such a “nanosilot” has sufficiently developed means of monitoring and control, and also carries a video camera with a transmitter. The product is distinguished by its minimal dimensions – the size of the drone is comparable to the standard control panel.

The nano-UAV of a new type is intended for reconnaissance and search in various conditions, incl. in closed rooms and in the field of various accidents. A miniature device is capable of flying along a route of complex configuration and identifying certain objects, as well as accurately determining their coordinates. It is reported that such capabilities have already been confirmed during tests on a special “obstacle course”. The UAV has shown its ability to fly between rubble, through windows, doors and other openings, etc. with simultaneous reconnaissance.

An ultralight UAV of this kind is quite suitable for use as part of a promising BEV. In addition, it can find application in other fields and contexts. It will be useful in security systems for facilities, in the elimination of accidents and consequences of natural disasters, etc. In fact, the nanosapilot is useful wherever you need to quickly and efficiently conduct reconnaissance in hard-to-reach places.

Desires and possibilities

The Armed Forces want to get promising combat equipment with a number of fundamentally new components that provide special capabilities. Right now, a technical assignment for their development is being worked out – the army is determining what exactly new products and systems should be.

Orlan-10 is the main reconnaissance UAV of the Russian army. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

At the same time, the industry is showing its ability to create similar products. So far, we are talking only about a separate complex with a drone and a control panel, but if there is a corresponding order, it can be integrated into the BEV – incl. with the desired data output to the helmet-mounted system. Obviously, work in this direction will begin no earlier than December, when the terms of reference and the order appear.

It should be noted that all this applies not only to ultralight reconnaissance UAVs, but also to other components of the future Sotnik BEV. It is planned to include a number of other advanced models and systems, which so far exist only in the form of experimental products or a set of required technologies.

By the middle of the decade, it is expected that the development of the Sotnik BEV in the army will begin. Such equipment will increase the combat effectiveness of units. Improved situational awareness will be one of the main factors affecting fighters’ capabilities. It is planned to provide it with new communication facilities and its own UAVs. At the same time, all components will be assembled into an integrated system, which will give obvious advantages.

Interest in the future

Already at the current stage, the promising BEV project and its components attract attention in our country and abroad, which leads to new interesting publications. This interest is expected to increase in the foreseeable future. This will be facilitated by the completion of the development of requirements and the start of full development of new components, expected over the next months.

The reasons for the interest in the “Centurion” and its individual components are obvious. From the available data, it follows that the “Centurion” will become perhaps the most perfect and advanced combat equipment in the world. New technologies, operating principles and components naturally attract attention already at the stage of preliminary research. Accordingly, it is already possible to imagine a future violent reaction to the appearance of ready-made samples and their delivery to the army.

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