In the recent past, the Kronstadt group has successfully completed the development and testing of the promising Orion / Pioneer unmanned aerial vehicle. The UAV of the new type has been successfully brought to mass production, and the first orders of the Russian army are being fulfilled. In addition, a specialized serial drone plant is under construction and the first foreign buyers are being searched for.
2014-15 the "Kronstadt" group manufactured several UAVs of a new model for flight and other tests. The tests started in 2015 and continued over the next several years. The experimental equipment was built at the Kronstadt site in Moscow. It has limited capacity and is considered a pilot production facility.
By the beginning of 2020, the experienced Orions have passed the entire cycle of tests at various airfields and training grounds. In addition, experimental military operation was carried out on the basis of one of the units of the Aerospace Forces. Since 2018, the drones have visited Syria several times, where they were engaged in reconnaissance and attacked terrorists. During all these events, the UAVs showed themselves well and were recommended for adoption.
In April 2020, it became known that Kronstadt handed over to the Ministry of Defense the first Orion complex with three UAVs and related ground assets. In the near future, the delivery of new complexes was expected for full deployment and development in the army. According to various sources, such plans are being successfully implemented, and the Orions are taking their place in the Aerospace Forces.
However, the full-scale production and mass deliveries of equipment have not yet been reported. This is due to the fact that drones are still being assembled at a pilot production facility in Moscow. This site has certain limitations, and in addition, work is being carried out on it not only on the serial Orion, but also on other promising models.
Expansion of capacities
Obviously, large production capacities are required to fully meet the requirements of domestic customers and to manufacture equipment for export. This year the Kronstadt group took the necessary measures and began construction of a completely new serial plant. In the coming weeks or months, it will begin its work.
The construction of a new plant in Dubna began in April. The Kronshtadt company planned to invest about 4 billion rubles in this project. and complete construction by the end of autumn. Accordingly, production launch was expected in November or December. The project provides for the construction of buildings with a total area of 45 thousand square meters with all the necessary equipment for the production of individual parts and the assembly of drones. The plant will operate approx. 1500 people
The new enterprise is being built not far from the Dubninsky machine-building plant named after V.I. Fedorov, also a member of the Kronstadt group. According to plans, DMZ will master the manufacture of ground control points for unmanned systems. Due to such cooperation and attracting a lot of subcontractors, it is expected that it will be possible to produce annually dozens of medium and heavy UAVs of various types.
The last time Kronstadt reported on construction work was in mid-October. By that time, the erection of frame structures was completed and the arrangement of facades was coming to an end. Part of the equipment for various purposes was also installed. Work is progressing on schedule, and plans to launch production at the end of the year remain in place.
At the same time, a pilot production facility in Moscow is being modernized. By the end of the year, new buildings for various purposes will be commissioned there. They will house a laboratory, aggregate production and assembly of ground vehicles for unmanned systems.
The emergence of the new plant will allow timely fulfillment of orders from the Russian Ministry of Defense, and also creates a reserve of production facilities for the implementation of export contracts. The Kronstadt Group has already begun promoting its drones on the international market, and the first supply agreements should appear in the near future.
The export version of the Orion-E unmanned complex was first shown in 2017 at the Army forum. Just a few days ago, he participated in the Dubai Airshow 2021 and attracted the attention of several potential customers. Following the results of the recent exhibition, the developer company revealed some details of the upcoming military-technical cooperation.
The leadership of "Kronstadt" reported that the armies of the Middle East are currently showing the greatest interest in heavy UAVs of Russian design. Some of the states in the region are also ready to establish joint production of equipment. In addition, there is interest from countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.
It is noted that Middle Eastern customers have increased requirements for unmanned vehicles, but the company is ready to satisfy them. Such revision of finished projects will not only help to obtain contracts from specific customers, but will also increase the competitiveness of equipment in the international market.
It should be noted that so far we are only talking about attracting the attention of foreign states and armies. Real contracts have not yet been concluded, and the necessary negotiations have not been announced. However, it should be borne in mind that Orion-E was only recently brought to the market, and potential buyers are just getting to know it and decide whether to buy it.
Achievements and plans
Recent ones news about the unmanned complex "Orion" and the situation as a whole are conducive to optimism. The development company has successfully mastered the assembly of such equipment at the existing site and is fulfilling the existing order of the Russian army. At the same time, the construction of new production facilities continues, which will allow increasing the rate of production, and not only for internal customers. At the same time, work is underway not only on Orion, but also on other UAVs of the same or similar classes.
First of all, all these processes and news show the ability of the Russian industry, represented by Kronstadt and its allies, to create and bring to production modern UAVs with high performance, incl. classes new to our country. In addition, it demonstrates the ability to create production facilities quickly enough for the full implementation of new projects.
At the moment, the main task in the context of the Orion project is the completion of construction and the opening of a new plant. The launch of this site is expected in the near future, and over the next few months it will be able to give the first production in the form of serial UAVs. This will be the next success of the most important project and will open the way to new opportunities and achievements.
In general, the prospects for the Orion project and the entire direction of medium and heavy drones are obvious and look optimistic. The equipment of new models will be produced and supplied by our videoconferencing system, and with its help they will receive new opportunities. In addition, foreign orders are expected. And "Orion-E", due to its characteristics and capabilities, is quite capable of taking a noticeable place in the market.