"Outpost" of the basic version
In the recent past, the Russian army received the first Forpost-R reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicles. This drone was developed on the basis of a foreign model, produced in our country under license. As a result of deep modernization, it completely switched to domestic components, and also acquired new functions and capabilities.
History the current project "Forpost-R" dates back to the end of the XNUMXs. By that time, an understanding of the need for modern UAVs of all classes had already appeared in our country, but the competence for the development and production of equipment of some classes was lacking. In this regard, the Ministry of Defense was forced to use foreign products.
In 2009, the Russian army acquired two Searcher II unmanned systems from the Israeli company IAI for study and experience. The tests were completed successfully, and the following year a contract was issued for the licensed assembly of such equipment at Russian sites. The licensed UAV received the designation "Outpost". The assembly of such products was first set up at the Kazan Helicopter Plant, and then transferred to the Ural Plant of Civil aviation (Yekaterinburg city).
The Israeli-Russian agreement provided for some degree of production localization. The Russian side made some of the units independently, but the key components were supplied from abroad. Thus, Forpost retained imported control systems, optoelectronic devices, an engine, etc. It is noteworthy that we received export-made products with understated characteristics.
Experienced "Forpost-R" preparing for the first flight, 2019
To date, the Ministry of Defense has acquired several dozen Forpost complexes, each of which includes three UAVs, a command post and auxiliary equipment. This technique is capable of carrying only optical-electronic systems and is intended solely for reconnaissance.
Despite all the limitations in terms of characteristics and functions, "Forpost" was a necessary and important acquisition. With the help of licensed UAVs, it was possible to provide the army with the necessary equipment and close one of the main niches before the appearance of its own developments. In addition, they allowed us to gain experience for the further creation of our own projects.
Ways of modernization
"Outpost" as a platform had a certain modernization potential and could receive new functions. In this regard, in the second half of the tenth years, the development of a modernized UAV, which received the designation "Forpost-R", began. The main goal of this project was assigned a complete transition to the use of domestic components. In addition, it was planned to supplement reconnaissance functions with shock capabilities.
In August 2019, UZGA completed the production of the first prototype "Forpost-R" and began its flight tests. Almost simultaneously with this, new components and assemblies of domestic development were presented, intended for this UAV and capable of replacing foreign counterparts.
Factory and government tests of the upgraded drone took place in 2019-20. At the same time, the first contracts for the production of serial complexes with new UAVs appeared. In the future, the Ministry of Defense has repeatedly announced the acceptance of such equipment, and deliveries will continue.
By now, the army has received several new unmanned systems, and they are already finding practical application and solving all the main tasks. For example, in September last year, during the Zapad-2021 exercise, the Forpost-R UAVs not only conducted reconnaissance, but also attacked a simulated enemy with specially designed small-caliber bombs.
The Forpost-R project provided for the preservation of the general architecture and the main design features of the drone while simultaneously replacing all key units. The main goal was the rejection of imported components and the use of domestic counterparts, incl. having an extended set of functions. As shown by tests and exercises, these tasks were successfully completed.
The deeply modernized Forpost-R UAV looks similar to the base IAI Searcher II. A composite glider with a developed fuselage and a double-girder tail section, a straight wing and a fixed landing gear has been preserved. The layout remains the same: the target equipment is located in the nose and center of the fuselage, and the engine is placed in the tail. In the manufacture of the airframe, Russian materials are used that fully meet the requirements of the project.
The imported UAV is equipped with a Limbach L550 four-cylinder petrol engine with less than 50 hp. The Forpost-R project provides for its replacement with the Russian APD-85 85 hp engine. A new two-bladed propeller of domestic design was also introduced.
A complete replacement of control systems and the use of Russian software are announced. However, the list of new units has not yet been announced. It is known that Forpost-R received Russian navigation, communication and control aids that fully comply with modern domestic standards.
The UAV retains the ability to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance. To do this, its payload can include at least two optics options. The Ural Optical and Mechanical Plant has developed the GOES-540 station, and the NPP Aviation and Marine Electronics offers the GOES-4 product. Earlier it was reported that GOES-540 is considered as the main option, and the other station will be optional.
These products are built using different components, but share common functions and characteristics. Both stations are equipped with a gyro stabilizer and have a day and night channel, as well as a laser rangefinder with a target illumination function. With their help, you can conduct reconnaissance and determine the coordinates of objects, as well as issue target designation, incl. directly guided weapons.
The fundamental innovation of the "Forpost-R" project is the ability to carry and use weapons... To do this, under the wing of the drone, there are two external suspension units, on which small-sized small-caliber ammunition can be installed. At present, various enterprises are developing a number of missiles and bombs of this class. In the future, they will be used by both Forpost-R and other UAVs.
The use of guided weapons in the Zapad-2021 exercises
An example of such a weapon is the KAB-20 aerial bomb, the use of which was shown during the Zapad-2021 exercises. This product weighs approx. 20 kg and carries only 7 kg of explosive. At the same time, it uses satellite or laser guidance, due to which high accuracy and efficiency is ensured.
A series of UAV projects "Forpost" demonstrated an interesting approach to the creation of new technology and the development of promising areas in general. Not having its own sample of the required class, the Ministry of Defense acquired a foreign one. This technique made it possible to equip new unmanned units, which then gained the necessary experience.
Subsequently, this experience and our own developments ensured a deep modernization, as a result of which only the basic platform remained from the original "Outpost". This made it possible to concentrate all forces on updating the complex of equipment and weapons. At the same time, the losses in characteristics due to the peculiarities of export and import were made up, and fundamentally new opportunities were obtained.
In its current form, "Forpost-R" retains a certain technical similarity with the Israeli IAI Searcher II, but receives the most serious advantages. Thus, the Russian project provides for the use of a more powerful engine that improves flight performance. Newer, more efficient and stable electronics have been used, the creation of which took into account the experience of the last decades. The key difference is the ability to carry and use weapons.
"Outpost-R" became one of the first Russian reconnaissance and strike UAVs that passed all tests and ended up in the army. Serial production of such equipment has been successfully mastered, deliveries in the interests of the Air Force have already begun and are scheduled for several years in advance. At the same time, the production of the most important sample no longer depends on imported products and technologies. All this allows us to talk about the successful completion of the project, pin great hopes on the new UAV and, not without reason, believe that it will justify them.