Flying an unmanned aerial vehicle isn’t usually the hard part, getting it on and off the ground is. But thanks to the addition of an all-terrain hovercraft skirt, the Russian Federation’s newest hybrid UAV will be able land and launch virtually any surface –from snow and sand to lakes and waterways, even stone-riddled roadways strewn with pebbles up to about 8 inches tall — all while riding a protective cushion of air.
Code-named Chirok (roughly translated, “Teal”), this model is the latest reconnaissance and strike drone (RSD) to come out of United Instrument Corporation (UIC), a division of the state-owned Rostec company. The Chirok’s 1:5 scale prototype made its debut at last year at Russia’s MAKS air show (which you can see below). This year, the company is coming with an operational prototype. This full-size model — which has already been constructed — sports full-composite construction, a 10-meter wingspan, weighs 750 kg, and should be ready for flight testing by the 2015 trade show’s August opening, according to a statement from Rostec. The company is also reportedly working on a larger, 2-ton variant though it’s in the early concept phase.
It’s designed with a 19,000-foot operational ceiling and a 1,550-mile service range and is rumored to even be powerful enough to carry up to three people in addition to a variety of internally-stowed guided, unguided, and smart munitions.