Orlan-10 is one of the main drones of the Russian Armed Forces, more than 1,000 of them had been delivered by 2022. Orlan means "Eagle", are a genus of birds of prey in the hawk family. The developer and manufacturer of Orlan is the Special Technology Center (STC), which produces 11 different modifications of the drone. Orlan-10 drones, in the face of enemy electronic warfare interference, carry out reconnaissance flights to tactical depth. The UAV weighing about 18 kg and with a wingspan of more than 3 m can spend up to 10 hours in the air, reaching speeds of up to 130 km/h. The report notes that the Orlan-10 complex is capable of operating in any weather conditions at ranges from 120 to 600 km at a maximum altitude of up to 5 km. The medium-range drones "Orlan-10" weighing 14 kg are capable of carrying 5 kg of payload.
Back in the early 2010s, in the wake of the "petrodollar militarization", the Kremlin decided to add a modern reconnaissance weapon to its artillery - a drone. And he put into service a light UAV called Orlan-10. The first battles in the Donbass, both for Ukraine and the Russian Federation, quickly proved that it was the reconnaissance drones that were crucial for effective fire. And it was precisely on the basis of the experience of 2014 that the Kremlin began the mass production of Orlan-10.
In general, "Orlan-10" is a multifunctional unmanned aerial vehicle. Previously, it was used by the military primarily for reconnaissance, patrolling and adjusting fire. The fact is that the UAV is integrated with the Msta-SM self-propelled howitzer. In particular, UAVs detect targets and transmit their coordinates to artillerymen, as well as correct fire. Orlan-10 drones constantly record and broadcast to command posts the positions of Ukrainian troops and nationalist battalions, which, hiding behind civilians as human shields and using terrorist tactics in combat operations, place strongholds, firing points, self-propelled artillery mounts, armored and motor vehicles, warehouses of military property and ammunition in private residential sectors and social infrastructure facilities.
The device of mixed (metal and plastic) design is made according to the high-wing scheme with a front engine and a pulling propeller. The tail unit is also made according to the classical scheme, although the keel of the "Orlan" is made much more developed than the stabilizer. At the same time, this decision looks quite understandable: a light drone will be less affected by crosswinds, and the existing relatively narrow stabilizer is sufficient for normal aerodynamics.
The launch of the unmanned vehicle takes place from a special collapsible catapult. After the initial acceleration, the flight takes place due to a low-power gasoline engine (AI-95 fuel is recommended). The flight speed can be in the range from 75 to 170 kilometers per hour, depending on the tactical need. "Orlan-10" can stay in the air for up to 18 hours, while in most cases the maximum distance from the control panel should not exceed 180-200 kilometers, otherwise it will be impossible to receive a signal from the drone's video equipment. The ceiling of "Orlan" reaches five kilometers.
Landing after completing the task is carried out using a parachute: the operator displays the device in a given area, slows down and gives the command to open the dome. In addition to the parachute, there are two more systems that ensure the preservation of the device during a hard landing. To do this, before touching, a pneumatic shock absorber is inflated, and when the permissible overload is exceeded, the structural elements of the "Orlan" are disconnected from each other, which can significantly reduce the resulting damage.
Russian artillery brigades and regiments will receive Orlan-10 reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles capable of detecting enemy command posts, communication stations, positions of artillery mounts and multiple rocket launchers using miniature electronic intelligence stations. But the main purpose of the newest unmanned artillery reconnaissance complex (BKAR) is enemy counter-battery radars, which determine the coordinates of artillery systems with an accuracy of several meters. Now the organizational and staffing structure of the new artillery reconnaissance units, which will be armed with BKA, is being developed. At the first stage, reconnaissance drones will become part of the artillery brigades that are part of the combined arms armies, and in the future they will replenish the reconnaissance equipment of the artillery regiments of motorized rifle and tank divisions.
An unmanned artillery reconnaissance complex is a rather complex and high-tech product that combines several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), an information analysis and processing station, and an automated control system. The heart of the BKAR is several Orlan-10 UAVs equipped with miniature electronic reconnaissance overhead containers capable of detecting the activity of enemy communications, as well as signals from counter-battery radars.
The received UAV information is transmitted to the command post of the complex, where the processing station analyzes the data, and the automated control system corrects the flight direction of the Orlans so that the radar position is determined by triangulation. After detecting the target, one of the drones will “hang” over the position of the radar, which will transmit the coordinates of the target and a video image to help the gunners hit the object. “The BKA can detect and detect a wide range of targets,” an artillery officer familiar with the operation of the unique complex tells Izvestia. - These are radars of anti-aircraft missile systems, and radars that provide flights of enemy aircraft, and even miniature radar stations, which are currently widely used by reconnaissance and infantry units to conduct surveillance at a distance of several kilometers.
The Russian military base in Armenia received new drones: modern reconnaissance systems Orlan-10, the press service of the Southern Military District (SMD) reported. "The drones will monitor extended and local objects in highlands, as well as providing combat training for military base units at the Kamkhud and Alagyaz training grounds," Interfax said in a statement on 28 of October 2015.
Russian UAVs "Orlan-10" were vulnerable not only to man-portable anti-aircraft missile systems, but also to Ukrainian electronic warfare systems. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reports a record number of enemy UAVs shot down. On May 5 alone, 14 Orlanov-10s were shot down. And since the beginning of the invasion, the Armed Forces of Ukraine have shot down over 300 drones of the operational-tactical level. The Ukrainian military is shooting down Russian UAVs not only with the help of MANPADS, but also with electronic warfare. Orlan-10's EW protection is of low efficiency. The adaptive small-sized antenna of the "Kometa" series increases noise immunity by 40-50 dB, which means a reduction in the UAV suppression radius by 100-300 times. However, the Ukrainian military, with the help of electronic warfare, was able to prove that the Comet was not so effective.
The Orlan-10 drone is used to suppress mobile communications as part of the Leer-3 electronic warfare complex. They are able to jam cell towers and replace their functions by sending messages and files to subscribers. Unmanned aerial vehicles based on the Orlan-10 drone are part of the modernized RB-341V Leer-3 electronic warfare complex. The drones are designed to jam 3G and 4G mobile communications towers with built-in jamming devices, in addition, they can drop disposable jammers from the air. The Leer-3 complex with the Orlan-10 UAV is capable of jamming base stations, intercepting calls, determining the location of subscribers, and much more.
Having suppressed cellular communication base stations, Leer-3 begin to perform their functions themselves in the interests of the Russian troops: send SMS and audio messages to subscribers, and in some cases video. According to the CEO of the analytical company Telecom Daily, Denis Kuskov, Leer-3 can control mobile devices associated with the captured tower, including intercepting calls and traffic. The process takes place imperceptibly for the subscriber, and it will not be possible to switch to another available tower. The operator can send messages, call users, or display pictures on the browser's stub page.
InfoWatch Group President Natalya Kasperskaya told Izvestia that, theoretically, EW operators can see the numbers of subscribers who are in the coverage area of the tower, blocking "strangers" and allowing their own to work. In her opinion, the system can also remotely turn off or turn on mobile phones.
In 2015, Rossiyskaya Gazeta provided a description of the Leer-3 complexes by the press service of the Eastern Military District of the Russian Federation. They include a special car designed for two operators, an antenna-feeder system for telemetric radio communication, two Orlan-10s and a launcher for them. The system operates within a radius of up to 120 km and at an altitude of up to 5 thousand meters.
In the Russian Federation, they say with a completely serious face that Orlan-10 is a real unique invention of Russian designers. At the same time, if you just look closely at its wreckage, it is rather difficult to find either inventions or anything Russian. Since the electronics are Western or Chinese, the engine is Japanese, the communications are German, the GPS navigation module is Swiss, the flight control sensors are American.
The most important thing in this UAV is of course the cameras that are responsible for the image quality. At first, this drone often carried an ordinary budget camera like the Canon 500D. Subsequently, more professional equipment began to be installed on it, including the American Flir thermal imaging cameras, the Danish daytime Phase One IXA 180, as well as full-fledged gyro-stabilized optical stations. In some brochures, there is a mention of the products of the Israeli company Controp with miniature stations of the STAMP family.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine have captured the latest version of the Russian military drone "Orlan-10". The founder of the site infocar.ua Pavel Kashchuk dismantled the device and spoke about its features. The military from the Lugansk battalion managed to land the UAV practically undamaged, which made it possible to study its design. As it turned out, this is one of the "freshest" devices released by Russia in February 2022. Pavel Kashchuk noted the improvement in build quality compared to previous captured models: almost all parts are made abroad. The exception was a parachute and a microchip with a GPS module "MNP-M7". The latter in the Orlans has already been replaced with a Kometa-M-VT chip, which is produced under an Israeli license, possibly purchased even before the invasion began.
It remains a mystery why Russian manufacturers installed the obsolete MNP-M7 instead of the more advanced and secure Kometa. Researchers suggest that it is not about sanctions, but about corruption and theft. The MNP-M7 board is built on the U-bloks protocol and is responsible for orientation in space using GPS navigation technology, such devices are used by many aircraft, including airplanes, they were installed on the very first versions of Orlans. According to Kashchuk, the microcircuit is very weakly protected from electronic warfare, which allowed the Armed Forces of Ukraine to capture the drone practically undamaged. The only protection was a sheet of foil, which was glued to the tail of the drone with double-sided tape.
Pavel Kashchuk also drew attention to the thermal imaging camera installed on the "Orlan" - it allows you to "see" not only at night, but also during the day, even through the foliage of trees. The device is equipped with a Lynred PICO-640-046 matrix from the French company Lynred, which specializes in infrared sensors. Its presence in a Russian drone may indicate a violation of sanctions and the supply of equipment from France.
"It is this detail that is responsible for the fulfillment of the main tasks - identifying live targets for their further destruction. Today they are Ukrainians, tomorrow they are Europeans? The serial number on the matrix will help the competent authorities in the EU to identify schemes for circumventing sanctions and companies involved," Pavel Kashchuk explained. On the official website, Lynred reports that the PICO-640-046 matrix captures an image with a resolution of 640x480 pixels and a refresh rate of 120 hertz. It complies with military standards MIL883, which means it can operate at temperatures from -40 to +85 degrees Celsius. In the presence of a lens with a focal length of 75 mm, PYCO640-046 allows you to notice a person from a distance of 700 meters, however, in the form of a small pixel.
That is, it is quite difficult to find at least something Russian in Orlan-10. Therefore, the likelihood that the Russian Federation will be able to continue producing Orlan-10 in conditions of total isolation is rather rhetorical. In a TV report, "Zvezda" showed miniature ammunition created for the "Orlan", which the military manually attaches under the wing of the drone, after which the "armed" drone is launched using a catapult. "UAV operators find a target and drop high-explosive fragmentation ammunition from a height of two kilometers. According to the military, the maximum deviation when hit is only a couple of meters," the report noted.
The Russian Armed Forces are using Orlan-10 drones in Ukraine in the strike version, which is capable of carrying high-explosive fragmentation grenades, the Defense Ministry said 17 May 2022. Previously, such a possibility of using the Orlan-10 drone was not reported. Video provided by the military department shows how the drone is assembled and prepared for launch. In particular, high-explosive fragmentation mini-bombs, converted from VOG-25 rounds for an underbarrel grenade launcher (equipped with plumage), are laid in special blocks.
The blocks are suspended under the wing of the UAV. The drone is then launched from the catapult. It is shown how he drops bombs on Ukrainian positions, and also fixes the result of the defeat with the onboard camera. "With the help of an attack drone, we ourselves inflict defeat on the enemy. Four high-explosive fragmentation shells are suspended on Orlan-10. Each shell hits targets within a radius of ten meters. We can use four shells at once. It all depends on the nature of the target. We can also drop one at a time projectile," said Yevgeny, a serviceman of the unmanned aircraft service, in the video.
Orlan-10, like any small-sized drone, is quite difficult to notice, both with the eyes and on the radar. And also quite hard to knock down. Therefore, developers around the world are still in search of a reliable means of combating drones of this class. Therefore, a combination of measures to counter electronic warfare stations and fire damage is still being used.
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