The Orion is a family of Russian unmanned aerial vehicles developed by Kronstadt Group. Its first flight occurred in 2016 after a development process between 2011 and 2015. The drone was meant to be used in reconnaissance and strike missions, with an endurance of 24h and a maximum payload of 250 kg for medium altitude flights. The Strike variant operates small guided bombs or Vikhr-1V laser-guided antitank missile and has been seen in Syria in 2019 as part of its first deployment in combat. The exact number of Orions in service is unknown, but the number of units built in total is estimated at around 48 drones.
Introduced in Update "Drone Age", the Orion is a very good choice for players in ground RB that have not researched any CAS and helicopter branches of the tech tree. The Orion can be fitted with 2 x 9M113M-2 or 9M113FM3 missiles. Both missiles are supersonic, have good manoeuvrability and can be used to destroy most MBTs. The first has a tandem warhead, which means that it has a high penetration but not so much post-penetration damage and requires aiming to parts of the tank with a higher ammo concentration or more crew members, like the turret. The second one uses a high-explosive warhead, and even though it may not be enough to destroy all tanks, with overpressure it will kill most MBTs with a well-placed shot in the roof of the vehicle, not to mention that most light targets, like IFVs and SPAAs, are extremely vulnerable to this kinds of warheads.
The Orion has a low top speed. As a propeller-driven UCAV, its climb rate and manoeuvrability are also sub-par. Despite this, it still can carry a devastating loadout of 9M113M-2 or 9M113FM3 missiles.
| Max speed
(km/h at 1,000 m)
| Max altitude
| Turn time
| Rate of climb
| Take-off run
|Max Static G
|Optimal velocities (km/h)
Survivability and armour
Aircraft survivability is quite an issue with most drone types, with drones being not only incredibly slow manoeuvring wise but also top speed wise.The structural integrity is also sub par with simple 7.7 mm MG's being able to take it out. One major benefit of drones is that you don't have a pilot to die as it is unmanned which means that you cant "black out: from G's either. There is no armour and the wings are quite fragile.
The Orion can be outfitted with the following ordnance:
- 2 x 9M133M-2 missiles
- 2 x 9M133FM3 missiles
The 9M133M-2 Kornet-М is a supersonic tandem warhead missile, good for destroying MBTs that players at this battle rating will commonly face. It has a good flight speed and decent maneuverability, so you can for the most part reach any target so long as it is within the missile's strike range.
The 9M113FM3 Kornet-М is a supersonic missile with a high explosive warhead. It penetrates as much as 61 mm of armour. The blast is enough to knock out most MBTs when hitting places that can trigger Overpressure, such as the turret or hull roof.
Usage in battles
The Orion fills a good niche as the "everyman's CAS". It is available to everyone, which can be very beneficial to players who have not researched BR appropriate aircraft or helicopters. You start off by spawning at an altitude of 4000 meters above the battlefield. Your main priority is SPAA - they are usually found stationary at the enemy spawn. Destroying them will not only help your survival, but also enable your fellow helicopter/aircraft pilots to move in and provide better, uninterrupted CAS. If there are no SPAA around, your next target would be enemy tanks that are near/on the capture points. Once you fire both 9M133M-2 or 9M133FM3 missiles, you have three options:
- Loiter over the battlefield and provide reconnaissance: Just because you can no longer use your missiles doesn't mean you can't help your team! Fly around the battlefield and scan the area with your amazing optical camera. Once you spot any enemy vehicles that pose a threat to your team, quickly mark them on the map and tell your teammates using the in-game chat (alternatively if you have any squad mates, you can work with them and point out enemies nearby using the squad marker)
- Land and rearm: Once the two ATGMs are used, reduce your throttle and glide towards the airbase. Once you land, begin any repairs and necessary rearming so you can take off. It should be worth noting that the Orion UCAV suffers from a low speed and a horrid climb rate, making the return to base and return to the battlefield incredibly lengthy. Altitude is also the only saving grace of the Orion, as helicopters/attack aircraft will generally be at lower altitudes and SPAAs will have no trouble sending a very slow target back to the hangar screen. Consequently, fighting at low altitudes should be regarded as a suicide mission.
- Bail out of the vehicle and spawn in a more capable vehicle: While it feels counterintuitive to bail out of a vehicle that cost 750 spawn points, it is the fastest way to get you back into the battle. Using the spawn points you accumulated, you can get enough to spawn another tank, an attack aircraft, or a helicopter. The advantage of this is that you should have cleared the path for you or other pilots to make some damage, as the SPAAs and anti-air threats are no longer there.
Pros and cons
- Spawns at altitude (4000 meters)
- Access to two devastating 9M133M-2 or 9M133FM3 missiles
- Exceptional optical camera with 2nd Gen thermals
- Hard to counter by SPAA
- Available for everyone to use
- Low maximum speed
- Terrible climb rate
- Access to only two ATGMs for a price higher than most helicopters and attack aircraft (which can carry more ATGMs)
- A large amount of time will be spent going from spawn to the airfield to rearm and back - better off bailing out and spawning another tank, aircraft, or helicopter
- Small launch window
The Orion UCAV (also known as Kronshtadt Orion) is a family of unmanned vehicles developed by the Russian company Kronstadt Group. The development of the Orion platform can be traced to 2011 as part of the Russian MoD-funded Inokhodets program. The company later revealed the first layout of the Orion with its first flight being reported to happen in 2016. The Orion was idealized from the start to be a multipurpose weapon, capable of reconnaissance and strike missions.
The armed variant, was developed to be able to carry a payload weight of 250 kg with a maximum payload of 4 missiles or bombs. It was meant to be fitted with the Vikhr-1V laser-guided anti-tank missile and when it's used for combat operations that is its primary loadout.
The Orion has other variants and has also been through different upgrade programs. The Orion (Inokhodets) is the base version of the Orion family and the one currently in use by the Russian Armed Forces, this version also was adapted to export, through the Orion-E variant. The Orion-E is an export variant of the reconnaissance version of the Orion, that has not found any client yet. The Orion-2 (Helios) is a larger version of the Orion, meant to be used for longer flights in high altitudes, instead of the medium altitude flights of the base Orion. This version is meant to have a flight time of around 30h, with a weight of 5 tons and is still in development, with the first flight originally intended to be in 2023. Finally the Inokhodets-RU (Sirius) was an upgraded version of the Orion with a bigger and different design. With two engines instead of one, it increased the total payload to 450 kg and the cruise speed to 295 km/h, with a flight time of 40h. While not currently in mass production, it was successfully tested in 2022 in joint operations with piloted aircraft and its first flight occurred in 2023.
Excellent additions to the article would be video guides, screenshots from the game, and photos.
|Wing Loong I