A stealth drone is in line to be Russia’s next-generation fighter
Russia says that it will turn its new drone, which is about to make its maiden flight, into a sixth-generation aircraft, according to TASS, a Russian state-owned media outlet.
"Okhotnik will become a prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet," a Russian defense industry official told TASS, adding that the sixth generation fighter "has not yet taken full shape, [but] it's main features are known."
The single-engine Okhotnik ("Hunter" in Russian) drone has a top speed of 621 mph, and might make its maiden flight in 2018, according to Popular Mechanics, citing TASS.
Popular Mechanics also published a supposed picture above of the Okhotnik, which was posted on a Russian aviation forum called paralay.iboards.ru.
Russia "may use [the Okhotnik] as a platform to develop technologies for an 'autonomous' or more likely pilotless drone," Michael Kaufman, a research scientist at CNA, told Business Insider.
Possible picture of the Okhotnik drone.
(Screenshot / paralay.iboards.ru)
But Kaufman added that the claims are rather questionable since TASS sourced a Russian defense industry official.
"Any technological advances from the Okhotnik development could be carried into future aircraft or drone design," Sim Tack, the chief military analyst at Force Analysis and a global fellow at Stratfor, told Business Insider, "and this [TASS] source may be a proponent of that route."
"As far as I see it, this is a large drone similar to X-47B, with sizable payload," Kaufman said. Popular Mechanic's Kyle Mizokami likened the Okhotnik to the American RQ-170 Sentinel drone.
Still, it's unclear exactly what the Okhotnik's capabilities are now, and what they would be if turned into a sixth-generation fighter — a concept that is still not fully realized.
The Okhotnik drone in its current capacity has an anti-radar coating, and will store missiles and precision-guided bombs internally to avoid radar detection, Popular Mechanics reported.
In any event, Russia appears to be aiming for some sort of sixth-generation aircraft, recently testing sixth-generation onboard systems on the Su-57 and even researching a radio-photonic radar for the potential aircraft.
Featured image: An X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System demonstrator.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.