The Russian Aerospace Forces used an armed variant of the advanced Orion unnamed aerial vehicle (UAV) to struck a terrorist position in Syria for the first time ever, Russian newspaper Moskovskij Komsomolets reported on April 6, referring to a video released by the Syrian pro-militant Step News Agency.
The video, which was released on April 4, shows what appears to be an armed Orion UAV carrying out an airstrike on a terrorist position in the town of Zaka in the northern Hama countryside.
Experts told Moskovskij Komsomolets that the Orion UAV was likely sent to Syria to conduct live combat tests, after successfully passing its flight tests.
The Orion is one of the biggest Russian-made UAVs with a wingspan of 16m and a body length of 8m. The UAV can fly as high as 7,5km for 24hours with an operational range of 300km.
The UAV was designed to carry out reconnaissance and signal intelligence (SIGINT) missions. However, last year the UAV was seen armed with guided munitions, which revealed its attack capabilities.
By successfully developing and testing an armed variant of the Orion, Russia has made another step to join the club of states (the U.S, Israel, China and Iran) capable of domestically producing combat-capable UAVs.