The growing field of "loitering munitions" - kamikaze-like, disposable unmanned aircraft - has led to an abundance of modern-day options for even the most discerning military buyer. The ST-35 "Silent Thunder" is just one solution in an increasingly crowded field and developed by the engineers of Ukraine-based Athlon-Avia as a reliable, cost-effective over-battlefield product. The system has been actively used in the country's War in Donbas in the east against Russian elements following the invasion of the country in February of 2022.
The ST-35's onboard systems can provide ground operators with real-time information on precise enemy positions and movements. The loitering aspect of this aircraft allows it to remain airborne for extended periods of time searching for, and tracking, unsuspecting targets of opportunity below - even those protected by woods, buildings, light armoring, and out of line-of-sight from traditional weapon solutions. The precise capabilities of loitering munitions enable it to engage targets in deep urban environments or wide-open spaces with equal lethality.
The general shape of the aircraft is centered on a tube-like body form. Wing mainplanes are arranged in an "X" pattern along the midway point and this is repeated through smaller-area planes at the tail. Drive power is electric and consists of six twin-bladed lift-units positioned about a detachable "collar".
The Silent Thunder has a take-off weight of 9.5 kg, installs a warhead of 3.5 kg (FAE, HEAT, and HEF types), and can fly out to a radius of 30 km while operating at altitudes of up to 1,200 meters and cruising at speeds of 140 kmh. The vehicle is launched vertically (VTOL) utilizing its lift-prop network. It is designed to be highly-transportable by ground forces and is carried in its own hard case. Some assembly / preparation is required prior to launching the unit as the fuselage arrives in two pieces and all planes have to be attached.
Once airborne, the loitering munition section of the system is released from its lift-rotor collar and is then relatively quietly driven to the target by operator (via camera) and its pusher propeller unit before the inevitable strike occurs. The system targets through an automatic TV/IR channel and is marketed with an overall 95% success-rate-on-target. Targets include all manner of ground-based positions and installations though typically high-value communications, storage, and general infrastructure has been singled out by Ukrainian forces.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Serving Special Forces / Special Operations elements and missions.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
VERTICAL TAKE-OFF / LANDING (VTOL)
Series has a tactical capability to take-off and / or land vertically, a quality commonly associated with helicopters.
Design incorporates rear-facing pusher-prop arrangement, a contrast to the more conventional puller-prop layout.
Design utilizes an all-electric powerplant for drive power.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Design features ability to fly sans pilot, actions controlled onboard through programming and / or ground-based operator.
Design features autonomous flight operations made possible through onboard artificial intelligence or pre-programming.
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.
7 lb (3 kg)
9 lb (4 kg)
+2 lb (+1 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Athlon-Avia ST-35 production variant)
quadruplane / mid-mounted / special
Design utilizes a quadruple-plane wing arrangement in which four mainplane members are used to generate lift while enhancing turning / agility; a less popular evolution of the biplane / triplane.
Mainplanes are mounted along the midway point of the sides of the fuselage.
Planform relies on a special shape that may be unique to the aircraft or sparingly used in aviaton.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the Athlon-Avia ST-35 production variant)
1 x Electric motor driving 6 x Twin-bladed lift-propellers for VTOL take-off and 1 x Twin-bladed propeller unit at the rear of the fuselage for horizontal flight (pusher arrangement).
The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com.
Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.