Military modernization has been of chief importance for Russia over the last few years with at least a quarter of the defense budget allocated to ensure that Russia regains its former position. With the changing nature of warfare, one category of modernization includes the design and manufacture of more advanced unmanned combat aerial vehicles.
The latest satellite imagery from 27APR11 acquired by DigitalGlobe appears to show Russia advancing towards that goal with a mock-up of the Skat UCAV at the Tver RCS range located northwest of Moscow.
The measurements taken from Google Earth would appear to match the dimensions released to the public. Despite the low fidelity of the imagery, measurements of the length and wingspan suggest the mock-up is around 10 and 11 meters, respectively. However, what’s also interesting to note, this mock-up does not appear to have the large air-intake on the nose of the aircraft, which may suggest this is a different UCAV. Unfortunately, due to imagery quality, it may be too early to say.
Developed by MiG, the Skat is a stealthy flying wing design, and the most advanced UCAV known to be in development in Russia. The design was first unveiled at MAKS in 2007.
The aircraft is reportedly powered by a RD-5000B turbofan engine, which is a modified derivative of the Klimov R-33D, used on the MiG-29 Fulcrum. According to the Russian press, it is expected to have a service ceiling of 12,000 m and a range of 4000 km.
In August, MiG announced it was ready to go ahead with a R&D project for a sixth-generation UCAV based upon its Skat prototype.