On May 14th, the former director of the Russian Experimental Design Bureau Simonov, Alexander Gomzin was arrested on charges of fraud. He is charged of stealing more than 494 million rubles ($ 7,5 million) from the Defense Ministry (paragraph 4 of Article 159 CCRF).
Kazan’s Aviastroitelny District Court changed the pre-trial restriction measure from the recognizance not to leave the place, TASS reported.
According to the prosecution, Gomzin, being the Director General of the Design Bureau, and unidentified persons “within the framework of non-fulfillment of obligations under state contracts to perform research and development work by concluding fictitious contracts with legal entities under control, stole money from the Russian Defense Ministry for a total of 494, 3 million rubles.”
Gomzin was initially arrested and charged in April 2018, but was not kept in prison.
“At the request of the investigation, the court ruled to take Gomzin into custody until June 10,” Vladislav Lachugin, the acting head of Simonov said, explaining that the investigation accuses Gomzin of misappropriating subsidies that were allocated to the company in 2014.
Lachugin also noted that these charges are “absurd,” and the mentioned amount is “impossible for the enterprise.” “Gomzin does not just deny the guilt. The amount indicated by the investigation is simply impossible for our company,” he said. At the same time, Lachugin did not specify the amount involved.
Since 2014, the experimental design bureau named after M.P. Simonov (the former Design Bureau “Sokol”) has been developing a project for a heavy drone that is intended faor solving combat missions in the Arctic nd the Altair large attack UAV.
OKB “Falcon” was founded in 1959. And it has been developing UAV technology since the 1960s.
In 2011, the Bureau won the competition of the Ministry of Defense for research work on the creation of a device weighing up to 5 tons and worth 1 billion rubles (~16.407 million USD). Two years later, in 2013, a five-year contract for experimental design was signed, and in 2016 a prototype of the drone Altair made its first flight.
However, the funds allocated by the Ministry of Defense were reportedly not enough to complete the project. In addition, during the development of the remote-piloted vehicle, its characteristics have changed: its mass increased by 2 tons and the development cost exceeded the amount of 2 billion rubles.
The Altair was supposed to be ready by May 2019, but it was transferred to the Kazan division of the Ural Civil Aviation Plant, which has no experience of developing own UAV projects.
Separately, the Russian military is working on several other drones:
The Ministry of Defense said it was working on a a strike version of Forpost mid-range drone. The Forpost UAV is a license copy of an Israeli “Searcher,” itself a design that is decades old at this point. Capable of distances up to 250 kilometers, it is currently Russia’s longest-ranged drone.
Another UAV is the Orion, Orion has similar characteristics to Forpost, such as range, at least as advertised at international arms expos [250 kilometers]. It is possible that its range could be extended further.
This particular UAV has similar design features to the ever-growing family of unmanned aerial vehicles all over the world — it bears close resemblance to the American RQ-9 Reaper, Chinese CH-4 and Ch-5 drones, as well as to the Iranian Shahed and Turkish Anka UAVs.
The Okhotnik combat drone is another project. In fall 2018, the Russian MoD carried out the first “taxing” test, when Ohotnik prototype was accelerated on the runway to test the engine.
In 2019, a short-duration “jump” is expected in which the UCAV will rise briefly above the tarmac to test its launching and landing capabilities.
It is going to be heaviest and fastest UAV if and when fielded, but additional testing and evaluation will have to take place in order for this unmanned system to be fully functional. Its speed goes up to 1000 km/hr and weighs up to 20 tons. Originally started around 2011-2012, this UAV has also been delayed by a number of years.
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