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Published in Press Stream:
October 16, 2015

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Published in Stream:
October 16, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Gazeta.ru Reports That Drone Downed by Turkey Is Likely New Secret Russian UAV Design
4 years
Stream: October 16, 2015
Publication: Putin in Syria
Claims That Russian Jets Mistakenly Struck Regime Positions Near Homs Yesterday
As we reportedly earlier today, Turkey shot down a drone today it declared was Russian. We noted the similarity of the downed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to similar Russian drone brought down by the Ukrainian army in eastern Ukraine last year.

Now Gazeta.ru has obtained information that the drone may be a new secret variation of past drones of Russian make.

Oryx Blog suggests that the UAVs found in both Syria and Ukraine were a hitherto unseen new development from the Orlan-10.

The Russian Defense Ministry, which has in the past admitted the use of its drones in Syria, immediately issued a statement that "all the UAVs of the Russian group of Aerospace Forces are functioning in the planned regimen," Gazeta.ru reported -- implying no Russian drone was shot down.

Col. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Chief Operations Division of the Russian General Staff later emphasized at a news briefing (translation by The Interpreter):

"All our UAVs are either on mission in the regions or at the air base. Whose downed UAV it is -- either guess or figure it out for yourselves," he said.


Gazeta.ru determined, however that the UAV was in fact a modification of the Orlan-30 which had just been successfully tested in Russia. The Orlan is manufactured by the Special Technologcy Center (STTs). Gazeta.ru asked STTs if this was their drone, and got a reply from Aleksei Kristman, a representative of STTs, who said the downed drone was "designed without his company's involvement."

"That is definitely not an Orlan in the photo. The dimensions, the construction and the load are completely different," he told Gazeta.ru.


But a source in the Russian defense industry identified the UA as Russian.

"This UAV is of Russian make. It is a secret design, and you will not find reference to it in the media."


He said the downed drone indeed look like it came from the Orlan family, but had a number of distinctions. He also said "other Russian agencies" besides the Defense Ministry were using the UAV, i.e. intelligence. The Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) declined to comment to Gazeta.ru.

Denis Fedutinov, an expert on unmanned aviation commented on the UAV models for Gazeta.ru, noting that Russia has never  officially specified what kind of drones it is using in Syria:


If you are speaking about the Russian Defense Ministry, I can surmise that our military use several types of UAVs in Syria. These are vehicles of a minor class Aileron-3SV or a heavier complex, the Orlan 10."
"Before this incident, pictures of UAVs downed in Syria appeared on social media, particularly of the same Aileron-3SV. Meanwhile, it cannot be excluded that we are using vehicles of a more major class, for example, the Forpost."

The Russian Defense Ministry purchased 34 Aileron - 3SV drones from the Kazan-based company Enix in a $2.8 million contract last year, UPI reported.

He also noted that it was not certain the drone was shot down; it could have crashed on its own due to operator error or technical malfunctions common not only to Russian but American drones. It is rather hard to shoot down a small drone unless it follows the same route, he added. The Syrian Army also has drones so it is not clear if it was in fact in Russia's arsenal:

"The Pchela UVA systems and likely UAVs from the Aileron family have been delivered to the Syrians in the past, so it cannot be ruled out that this UAV was in fact used by the Syrians."


Kartapolov's carefully-worded denials could imply either that the drone was given to Syria by Russia or was an American drone.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick