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Russian army integrates Orlan-10 and Takhion UAVs with Msta-B howitzers.

| 2021

Russia’s artillery units have integrated Orlan-10 and Takhion tactical reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with 2A65 Msta-B 152 mm towed howitzers. The system has been recently tested during an exercise of the Eastern Military District (VVO) troops at the Tsugol range in Zabaykalsky Krai, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD).
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Takhion tactical reconnaissance UAV (Picture source: Russian MoD)

The Msta-B towed howitzers were transported to their firing positions by KAMAZ-based Medved (Bear) carriers. According to the scenario of the exercise, the Orlan-10 and Takhion UAVs detected a simulated enemy’s armor at a distance of more than 10 km and sent information to a command and control post. Then, the Msta-B howitzers used this target information and engaged the targets. The exercise included both single firing and battery salvos, according to the military. Some 200 servicemen and more than 50 weapon systems were involved in the exercise, said the MoD.

The Orlan-10 UAV was developed by the Special Technology Center (STC) in Saint Petersburg for the Russian Armed Forces. The price of one drone is reportedly between US$87,000 and US$120,000. The drone is usually used in a group of two or three, where the first one is used for reconnaissance in a height of 1–1.5 km, the second one for electronic warfare and the third one as a transponder that transmits intelligence information to the control center. One system can include up to 5 UAVs. More than 1,000 Orlan-10's have been produced, with 11 different variations. The Orlan-10 features a composite hull that reduces its radar signature. It has seen action in Ukraine, Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh. According to media reports, an updated variant of Orlan-10 tactical UAV entered service with the Russia's ground forces in 2020. The updated variant is expected to have a laser designator to allow it to pinpoint targets for precision-guided artillery and aircraft munitions.

The Takhion UAV can be equipped with a video, photo or infrared camera. It can fly for up to 6 hours. Takhion drones are produced by the Russian Ural-based company Izhmash-UAV.

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Orlan-10 tactical reconnaissance UAV (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

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