For many years the NATO countries had the upper hand when it comes to unmanned aircraft, but in the recent years Russia, China and Iran made their own steps towards the operational UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle).
Development and history
The Russian MiG Construction Bureau was the first to produce an operational and quite potent UCAV outside the NATO bloc and their final product got the name Skat (Manta Ray). It is very similar to the Boeing concept Phantom Ray in appearance, and even some basic characteristics are quite evenly matched between the two.
The development of MiG Skat resulted in 17 units produced and although the production was halted after that, there were some rumors that the project was never actually shot down and that the Sukhoi Bureau will continue it. In Late 2013 it became clear that the project is still live and that the Mikoyan Bureau is working on a new drone based on the Skat.
As with most of the new Russian projects it is pretty hard to predict what will be the main task for the Skat and the drone derived from it. The ability to carry two big missiles like Kh-31 leads to belief that it would be used primarily as the drone that will counter enemy air defense and radars, although that leaves it an option to attack the enemy ships as well. So, the usage of the Skat UCAV can be pretty wide and until the Russian Ministry of Defense reveals the true purpose of the entire program, it will remain a mystery where these UCAVs can be expected.
Since there are some rumors that the new 5th generation Sukhoi’s T-50 will be available in the UCAV version, it is reasonable to presume that the Mikoyan project will be focused on ground, sea and electronic warfare since the T-50 is a pure blooded fighter.
Engine: Klimov RD-5000B, a variant of the Klimov RD-93
Maximum speed: 800 km/h (Mach 0.65)
Ceiling: 12.000 m
Radius: 2.000 km
Wingspan: 11.5 m
Length: 10.25 m
Armament: up to 2 tons of load in 2 bays