On April 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense released footage documenting a recent sortie by an Orion combat drone over the special military operation zone in Ukraine.
During the sortie, the drone detected a convoy of Kiev forces. According to the ministry, the convoy was quickly destroyed with precision-guided munitions. The ministry didn’t clarify if the munitions were launched by the drone itself, or other systems. The strike took place near the city of Avdiivka in the Donetsk region.
In the video, the Orion can be seen armed with the air-launched version of the Kornet-D anti-tank laser-guided missile, which is known as the X-BPLA. The specifications of the new missile are yet to be revealed. The ground-launched Kornet-D has a range of up to eight kilometers and the ability to penetrate 1,300 mm of armor.
The drone can be armed with other munitions, including light precision-guided munitions from the Kab-20 and Kab-50 series.
The Orion was developed by Russia’s Kronstadt Group to conduct both reconnaissance and combat missions. The drone is typically equipped with an optical targeting system. However, it can also carry a radar or an electronic and signal intelligence gathering system. The drone has an endurance of 24 hours and a combat radius of 250 kilometers.
The Russian military has been using Orion and several other types of combat drones against Kiev forces since the start of the special military operation in Ukraine more than a year ago. Details about the operations of these drones are rarely declassified.