RANGE: 1,553 miles (2,500 kilometers; 1,350 nautical miles)
The Rostech Chirok ("Teal") Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was unveiled in prototype form during Innoprom 2014 and differentiates itself from existing UAV lines by its air, land, and over-water capabilities. Appearing as something of a winged-hovercraft, this UAV can traverse over land and water surfaces while also climbing to altitude to significantly broaden the Chirok's tactical appeal to a world of potential customers. As such, the design will be marketed to a broad range of services including those non-military such as oil rig support, natural disaster support, border patrol, and humanitarian relief. In its more military-minded role, the aircraft would be used for general ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) and may very well be armed at a future date for the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) role. While development is on-going with full-scale flight testing set to begin in 2015, serial production is not slated for 2016 or later.
The "Chirok" name stems from a species of duck common to Russia and details the inherent capabilities of this UAV.
As designed, the Chirok can take-off and land from virtually any surface whether hard or soft which instantly benefits operations without access to a prepared, or even rough-field, runways. A cushion of air supports the vehicle during its ground running, mimicking the qualities seen in many-a-hovercraft for decades. The entire vehicle - its construction utilizing composite - sits atop this cushion system. The cushion makes the Chirok wholly unique in the world of UAVs. When the aircraft becomes airborne, the cushion component retracts into the fuselage to maintain a more aerodynamically refined airframe. The fuselage features an enlarged forward section, though well-streamlined with fine contours, leading to the monoplane wing assemblies and a twin-boom tail unit fitted aft. A pair of inward-cranked vertical tail fins are seated at the end of the booms, joined at their tips to become a single assembly. Power is served through a pair of small engines seated atop short stubs though exact propulsion system arrangement has yet to be released. Each engine drives a four-bladed propeller assembly in a "pusher" configuration. Its general shape, size, and skin is said to carry inherent stealth qualities.
To date (2014), the only specifications released on the Chirok include a wingspan of 32.8 feet, a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 1,545lbs, and a payload capacity of 660lbs. A service ceiling of 19,685 feet is also reported as is an operational range of 1,555 miles - giving the small, compact vehicle a good reach in any desired role.
While initially unarmed, it is said that an internal weapons bay could be fitted to the design, allowing the Chirok to field compact precision weapons for the UCAV role. How this would work with the retractable air cushion is unclear though it would help support its stealth design approach.
It is expected that the ongoing nature of the Chirok program will undoubtedly lead to various design changes featured, including its propulsion arrangement and performance.
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