In recent years, Russian defense forces have been adopting Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in greater numbers. One type in having made its way into the inventory of the Russian Air Force is the compact Yakovlev "Pchela" ("Bee") which is used for the Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) role. The system is used by the militaries of both Russia and North Korea (2018). A first-flight was recorded in 1990.
The vehicle's design consists of a tube-like fuselage which houses the optics and avionics set in the front and the powerpack in the rear. The optics are held in a traversing "blister" mounted in the chin position and integrates real-time video feeds with protected data-link capability - giving ground commanders access to real-time battlefield data. The engine drives a shrouded propeller unit in "pusher" configuration at the tail. Over midships is a shoulder-mounted, straight wing mainplane. The undercarriage is a static, shock-absorbing four-legged tube assembly.
As designed, the air vehicle has a an operational range out to about 40 miles from its ground remote-control post and can reach altitudes in excess of 8,000 feet. Maximum speed reaches over 110 mph. The system can remain airborne for some two total hours. The launch process requires use of two solid-propellant booster rocket-driven engines and recovery is by way of a parachute deployed to retard the fall of the vehicle as it returns to the ground. The vehicle is flown either through pre-set mission waypoints (automated flight) or by remote, manual input by a ground-based operator.
Beyond its stated value to the ISR role, the Pchela can also be used to designate targets for accompanying attack aircraft and can further serve as a target drone for training actions. Like other UAVs of this class, the Pchela is designed with a modular payload-carrying capability which can be arranged to suit the needs of the customer.
According to Yakovlev marketing materials, the complete Pchela field system includes up to ten air vehicles with associated (dispensable) booster launchers, the mobile GCS and launch rail (built into the compact tracked, air-droppable BTR-D armored vehicle), a supporting URAL-4320 military truck, and a loader-transporter GAZ-66 series military truck.
Status Active, In-Service
Production 100 Units
Yakovlev OKB - Soviet Union / Russia
North Korea; Russia
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
220 lb (100 kg)
309 lb (140 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Yakovlev Pchela-1T production model)
1 x Conventional drive motor arranged in pusher configuration. Solid-fueled rocket-boosted launches.
112 mph (180 kph; 97 kts)
8,202 feet (2,500 m; 1.55 miles)
37 miles (60 km; 32 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Yakovlev Pchela-1T production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
None. Typical fit is mission-related equipment for the Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance role (cameras and sensors with real-time feed/data-link).
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Yakovlev Pchela-1T production model)
Pchela - Base Series Name.
Pchela-1T - Main production model.
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
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