Drone buddies: Russia, China work on first MRLS-delivered scout UAV

A Russian launch rocket system "Smerch" © Sergei Karpukhin
Russian and Chinese engineers have allied to develop the first-ever reconnaissance drone instantly delivered to battlefields as far as 90km away using a powerful projectile of a multiple launch rocket system.

Development of a drone delivered within a 300mm MRLS rocket is underway at the Splav design bureau and production center in the Russian city of Tula. The center is an integral part of Russia’s Techmash Concern, a weapon developer and subsidiary of the state corporation Rostec.

“This system makes tactical intelligence really fast, because the UAV is delivered to a desired distance – which could be up to 90km – by a projectile flying with tremendous speed,” Deputy Director of Techmash Concern, Dmitry Rytenkov, said at the Russia Arms Expo 2015 in Nizhny Tagil on Wednesday.

Once deployed, the drone should be able to monitor the area fir 25-30 minutes, transmitting data to an operational console in real time, Rytenkov said.

That is more than enough for a MRLS battery to deliver a precise rocket strike and leave the firing position.

A 9А52-4 MLRS 9К58 Smerch.  © Pavel Lisitsyn

Rytenkov has not elaborated further regarding which part of the system is going to be designed in China.

Both Russia and China have 300mm MRLS systems in the inventory.

For Russia it is the BM-30 Smerch (Whirlwind), a 12-rocket system capable of firing rockets with up to 250kg payload to a distance of 90km.

China also has several BM-30 Smerch systems, along with the domestically-developed A-100, armed with 10 rockets.