Key point: Russia may want to signal to both domestic and foreign observers that it can develop the capability to launch the same sort of stealthy, penetrating attacks it fears coming from the United States.
On August 7, 2019 the Russian Ministry of Defense released a video showing the first flight, five days earlier, of a prototype stealth drone called Sukhoi S-70 Okhotnik-B. The flying-wing drone circled for twenty minutes around two thousand feet above the Chkalov State Flight Test Center in Astrakhan (near the Caspian Sea) before coming down for a landing.
Okhotnik, which means “Hunter,” is a large flying-wing style Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle, or a “Strike Reconnaissance Unmanned Complex” in Russian nomenclature. That means it’s a low-observable drone that can launch deadly attacks as well as serve in a surveillance and electronic warfare role.
While development of the Okhotnik began in 2011, the vehicle first emerged into public view on January 23 in photos on Russian social media of one of the flying drones being towed by a tractor at Novosibirsk, Siberia.
Then on May 14, the Okhotnik was photographed at the Chkalov facility during a visit by President Vladimir Putin. While Putin then primarily flaunted the capabilities of the Su-57 stealth fighter, which is entering wider-scale production, he also alluded to the capabilities of the stealth drone.