Thursday, November 24, 2005

Russia Irkut Corp Announces Five "civil use" UAV Platforms

Russian's Irkut Corporation announced today that it is to begin production of five 'unmanned and optionally piloted' 'civilian' UAV systems in early 2006. They are the Irkut-2F/T, -20, -60, -200 and -850. The latter model can lift a payload of up to 850 kg up to 200km.

All are single piston-engined, fixed-wing flying between 100-150km at altitudes of between 100-500m for the lightweight types and up to 3,500m for the Irkut-200. A suite of cameras and sensors are said to have been developed to go with the Irkut fleet.

Dr Vladimir Sautov, vice-president for marketing and external relation, said that the Irkut series was developed in response to a request from Russia's Ministry for Emergency Situation and that they were for civil use only - for oil and gas applications, forest monitoring and perhaps traffic control.
But with system costs varying between US$60,000 right up to US$5 million, depending on payload, the utility to military users cannot be ignored even though it was not a topic open to discussion. Weaponising the platforms was also not on the agenda.

Dr Sautov announced that EADS was taking a 10% share of the Irkut Corporation (possibly worth up to US$70 million).



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