Russian Kronstadt Group Launches Orion-E MALE UAV

The Orion-E was designed for air reconnaissance. A heavier version with combat capabilities is planned to be developed in the future

Kronstadt Technologies unveiled the first Russian medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) class unmanned aerial system during the MAKS 2017 airshow. Dubbed the Orion-E, the surveillance UAV has been undergoing flight-testing in Russia since last year.

According to Aviation Analysis, the UAS has an external design similar to the Thales WatchKeeper UAS, which is based on the Elbit Systems Hermes 450. With a wingspan of 16 m (52.5ft), the Orion-E is capable of automatic takeoff and landing, and fly continuously for 24 hours, carrying a surveillance payloads of up to 200 kg. It can reach a maximum altitude of 7,500 meters. According to the report, the Orion-E is possibly powered by the 100 hp Saturn 36MT turboprop.

Air Recognition adds that the Orion-E has a maximum takeoff weight of 1000 kilograms, standard payload of 60 kilograms, maximum payload of 200 kilograms, horizontal flight speed of 120-200 km/h, direct vision engagement range of 250 kilometers and the range with unmanned transponder of 300 kilometers. The Orion-E air reconnaissance complex includes 4-6 drones, a ground command and data processing station, automatic takeoff and landing means and communication means.

Images from the launch are available at

According to Kronstadt, the UAS is intended for export market and is expected to be ready by 2020. A more capable and heavier version in the 5-7 ton weight class is also planned to be developed as a follow on, which will have combat capabilities.


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