|Role||Unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aerial vehicle (reconnaissance variant) and unmanned combat aerial vehicle (armed variant)|
|Primary user||Russian Ground Forces|
|Number built||48+[better source needed]|
The Kronshtadt Orion is a family of Russian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) developed by Kronstadt Group. There are several variants of the drone, both for Russia's domestic and export market.
Kronstadt began the development of Orion in 2011 as part of the Russian MoD-funded Inokhodets programme. In 2013–2015, the company revealed the first layout of the Orion. In May 2016, RIA Novosti reported that test flights of the drone had begun.
On 24 August 2021, it was reported that the Russian MoD and Kronshtadt signed a deal for the procurement of 5 combat groups of an upgraded version of Orion, Inokhodets-RU (also known as Sirius). Each group will have several drones; delivery is scheduled for 2023.
The large-scale Russian-Belarusian exercise Zapad in September 2021 included Orion drones.
According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Orion was tested for strike missions in 2019 in Syria. In 2020, the Russian Defence Ministry received the first batch of Orion drones for trial operation.
By 9 April during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, there was video confirmation of Orion performing six successful strikes on Ukrainian vehicles, however the first combat loss of a drone was reported on 7 April.
- Orion (Inokhodets)
- Original version, also known as Russian: иноходец, romanized: Inokhodets, lit. 'amble'. Can carry four guided bombs or four missiles and has a maximum payload of 200 kg.
- Export version of the Orion. Export contracts for the reconnaissance version of the drone have been signed.
- Orion-2 (Helios)
- Also known as Helios, the Orion-2 is a larger version of the original Orion, with a bigger payload, classified as a high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAV, rather than the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) classification of the original Orion. It weighs 5 tonnes (11,000 pounds) with a wingspan of 30 meters (98.42 feet). It is intended for autonomous operations of up to 30 hours, at altitudes above 10,000 meters. A full-scale mock-up was unveiled on August 27, 2020, at the Kronstadt pilot plant. The first flight is planned for 2023. There is also an export version of Orion-2.
- Inokhodets-RU (Sirius)
- Also known as Sirius, the Inokhodets-RU is an upgraded variant of the Orion with a bigger and different design, the key difference being twin engines. Sirius is a medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) attack UAV, with a wingspan of 30m, length of 9m and height of 3.3m, a maximum combat load of 450kg, cruise speed of 295km/h, maximum altitude 12,000m, and an endurance of 40 hours. A full-size mock-up of the 5 tonne drone was presented at the MAKS-2019 International Aviation and Space Exposition held at Zhukovsky International Airport near Moscow, Russia. Inokhodets-RU has been tested jointly with piloted aircraft as of August 2022. First flight occurred in 2023.
Data from Kronstadt Company 
- Length: 8 m (26 ft 3 in)
- Wingspan: 16 m (52 ft 6 in)
- Height: 3 m (9 ft 10 in)
- Max takeoff weight: 1,150 kg (2,535 lb)
- Payload: 250 kg (550 lb)
- Maximum speed: 200 km/h (120 mph, 110 kn)
- Cruise speed: 120 km/h (75 mph, 65 kn)
- Range: 1,440 km (890 mi, 780 nmi)
- Endurance: 24 hours with 60 kg payload
- Service ceiling: 7,500 m (24,600 ft)
- "Шойгу заявил, что боевые возможности российской армии за 2020 год возросли на 13%" [Shoigu said that the combat capabilities of the Russian army for 2020 increased by 13%]. tass.ru.
- Shlepchenko, Vlad (5 July 2022). "Rise of Orion: Russian Birds Are Ready For Fight In The Sky of Donbass". tsargrad.
The Kronstadt plant, built last year, is switching to a three-shift mode of operation...According to unofficial data, the Kronstadt plant has been mass-producing Orions for four months now and managed to deliver eight complexes to the army, each of which includes a command post, a communication module and six UAVs. It was also reported that 12 more complexes are planned for dispatch in the coming month.
- "Совфед направил на фронт 48 беспилотников и 12 наземных станций управления" [Federation Council has sent 48 UAVs and 12 control stations to the frontline]. TASS. Retrieved November 24, 2022.
- "Russian Kronstadt Group details Orion-E UAV". www.armyrecognition.com.
- "Orion UAV". www.globalsecurity.org.
- "ORION Certificate of Acceptance signed - European Security & Defence". euro-sd.com. 22 April 2020. Archived from the original on 2 August 2020.
- "Russia still has sights set on Orion - Shephard Media". www.shephardmedia.com.
- "Минобороны РФ подписало контракты на поставку ударных беспилотников "Иноходец" и "Форпост-Р" -" [The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation signed contracts for the supply of attack drones "Pacer" and "Forpost-R" -]. www.militarynews.ru.
- "ЦАМТО / / Компания "Кронштадт" поставит Минобороны РФ БЛА самолетного и вертолетного типов" [TsAMTO / / The Kronstadt company will supply the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation with UAVs of aircraft and helicopter types]. armstrade.org.
- "Russia to begin deliveries of latest strike drones to troops from 2023". tass.com.
- "Strike drones, Terminator tank support vehicles assist in offensive at Zapad-2021 drill". tass.com.
- Axe, David (9 April 2022). "Russia Just Lost A Killer Drone Over Ukraine. It Can't Afford To Lose Many More". Forbes.
The proof is in the videos and photos of Russian drones and their victims that have circulated on social media in recent weeks. The Kremlin has released several drone video feeds depicting successful strikes on Ukrainian vehicles.
- Oryx. "Attack On Europe: Documenting Russian Equipment Losses During The Russian Invasion Of Ukraine". Oryx. Retrieved 2023-08-17.
- "Russia Tests Combat Drone in Syria". www.defenseworld.net.
- "Enlarged Derivative of Orion UAV Under Development". www.ainonline.com.
- "ЦАМТО / / "Рособоронэкспорт": экспортные контракты на поставку разведывательных БЛА "Орион" уже реализуются" [TsAMTO / / Rosoboronexport: export contracts for the supply of Orion reconnaissance UAVs are already being implemented]. armstrade.org.
- "Russian Minister of Industry and Trade discovers new domestically-built Helios UAV". www.airrecognition.com.
- "Flying prototype of Russia's Orion-2 drone to be ready in four years". tass.com.
- "Russia's long-range attack drones". www.airforce-technology.com. 27 November 2020.
- "Russia's New Stealth Drone, Su-57 Jet Team to Destroy Adversary's Air Defenses". www.defenseworld.net. 3 March 2023.
- "Russia tests latest Sirius drone in joint reconnaissance/strike operations with aircraft". TASS.
- "В России состоялся первый полет новейшего беспилотника «Сириус»". Коммерсантъ (in Russian). 2023-08-15. Retrieved 2023-08-15.
- on YouTube Kronstadt Company
- "Armed Orion-E MALE UCAV Debuts in Dubai". Archived from the original on 2021-11-14. Retrieved 2022-09-02.