A Russian and a United Arab Emirates defense contractor are planning to jointly build an unmanned combat helicopter drone as global military’s become more sci-fi.
Russia’s Berkut Aero will reportedly team up with the UAE’s Adcom Systems to take Russia’s Berkut VL helicopter as a model for Russia’s first-ever combat helicopter drone. The aircraft would be stationed on a Russian aircraft carrier and fly to remote areas, Berkut Aero development director Dmitry Rumyantsev told the wire.
Adcom Systems representative Karim Badir also confirmed to RIA Novosti that the company was considering the Russian chopper as a basis for a new attack drone.
The Berku VL is a superlight two-seat helicopter. It has a range of up to 600 kilometers. Adcom Systems builds unmanned assault vehicles, radar systems and advanced communication systems.
Over the last several weeks, in light of the recent military skirmish in Syria, major powers have been announcing their interest in increasing their military presence, power and technological capabilities on the battlefield.
China’s premier Xi Jinping did so last week during a visit aboard China’s first-ever aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.
Russia’s military recently said it too was designing a new generation long range bomber to compete with the same aircraft in the U.S., and said they would be equipped with hypersonic missiles that can travel at speeds upwards of mach 5.
Russia and the United States have strained, but generally friendly military ties.
In fact, starting on Monday, Russian military inspectors will begin a series of monitoring flights over the U.S. under the international Treaty of Open Skies, a Russian Defense Ministry official said today. Russian pilots will conduct two flights on board the large Boeing sized Tupolev Tu-154M-LK-1 plane between September 2 and 16, said Ruslan Shishin, acting head of the ministry’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center. The Tupolev will be taking off from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and the Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska along agreed flight routes with the maximum range of 4,900 kilometers (3,044 miles) and 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) respectively.
Russia is the third largest defense spender in the world. The country spent around $90 billion in 2012, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Meanwhile China spent $166 billion and No. 1 U.S. spent $682 billion worldwide last year.
For a country once known as a military superpower, Russia has shrunk back into its shell. And strongman president Vladimir Putin isn’t all too happy about it.
Last year, Putin urged the Russian Air Force to develop a range of drones including strike and reconnaissance types. “We need a program for unmanned aircraft. Experts say this is a most important area of development in aviation,” Putin was quoted saying in the local press.
Russia plans to spend around 400 billion rubles ($13 billion) on drone development over the next 8 years.
The copter drone with UAE will be a first for the Russia military, but not for the U.S.
In May, the U.S. Navy established its first aircraft squadron made up of both traditional helicopters and remotely piloted drones. The Navy expects its squadron of unmanned copters to deploy in early 2014 on the LCS Fort Worth. The littoral combat ship will have two Fire Scout unmanned helicopters and one Seahawk helicopter.
Original article by Kenneth Rapoza : www.forbes.com