Russian Altius-U Unmanned Aerial Vehicle flies for the first time

Screenshot from the video released by the Russian MoD.

The drone is the final version of the Altius project and equivalent of the U.S.-made MQ-9 Reaper.

On Aug. 20, 2019, the Russian Ministry of Defense released a video of the first flight of the new Altius-U long-range Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. This first flight test, which lasted 32 minutes, took the aircraft around the airport in fully automatic mode at an altitude of 800 meters (about 2,600 feet). The UAV flew in a fixed configuration with landing gear extended and flaps up. It’s interesting to note that this represents the second drone tested for the first time in less than a month, after the Su-70 Okhotnik-B or “Hunter-B” that flew for the first time on August 3.

The program for the new UAV first started in 2011 and resulted in three demonstrators built by MP Simonov Design Bureau, now called OKB Sokol.

The first one, called Altair and sporting the tail number 01, was unveiled in 2014 and flew for the first time in 2016, while the second demonstrator, the Altius-M sporting tail number 02, was spotted for the first time in 2017. The new Altius-U is considered the final evolution of the project.

Another screenshot from the video released by the Russian MoD.

The Russian military is advertising the drone as capable of performing the entire spectrum of reconnaissance missions using optical, radio and radar sensors with a flight duration of more than 24 hours. This should put the UAV in the MALE (Medium Altitude Long Endurance) class as the U.S. made MQ-9 Reaper.

The Altius-U, with bort number 881, adopted a high-wing solution and a V-shaped tail and is powered by two turboprop engines. The Ministry of Defense didn’t provide technical details, although they should be similar or equal to the specifications of the previous Altius-M.

The Altius-M has a length of 11.6 m and a wingspan of 28.5 m, with a MTOW (Maximum Take Off Weight) between 5000 kg and 7000 kg (11000 lbs and 15400lbs) and a payload between 1000 kg and 2000 kgs (2200 lbs and 4400 lbs). Its maximum range is estimated in 10000 km (about 5400 nautical miles), with a cruise speed of 150-250 km/h (81-135 kts) and a ceiling of 12000 m (about 40000 feet).

According to rumors, the aircraft will be also able to be armed and to perform strike mission, as it should be confirmed by the presence of two pylons under the wings of the drone during the first flight.

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.