A new Russian stealth drone has been reportedly photographed in detail for what may be the first time in Siberia.
Military analysts said first grainy images of Okhotnik, an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) built by the Sukhoi design bureau, may have appeared online as early as 2017. On Wednesday, the U.S. aviation online outlet The War Zone reported that new photos of Okhotnik taken at a distance may have been snapped during November ground tests in Novosibirsk. The sixth-generation battle drone underwent tests last summer and is expected to fly for the first time in 2019, Interfax reported last June, citing an unnamed source.
“Whether or not this new image is of Okhotnik, or some other design, if it is indeed real it is the latest evidence that Russia remains committed to the development of a stealth UCAV,” The War Zone wrote.
New close-up photos of the “impressively large” stealth drone were widely shared on social media Thursday.
According to The War Zone, Okhotnik’s vast size compared to a tractor pulling it suggests the drone may be as large as a medium-weight fighter, but shorter in length and with a much longer wingspan.
The UCAV appears to be powered by a full-sized fighter jet engine, the outlet writes, which would help it take off at high gross weights. “[B]ut beyond that, it would have questionable utility,” it says.
“We have to also remember that this is a prototype. Maybe the final version will feature a redesign,” The War Zone writes, criticizing Okhotnik’s rear design as “downright crude.”
An anonymous Instagram user who initially posted what looks to be the Okhotnik photographed from a distance described the drone as “awfully handsome.”