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The Drone Index: NASB Burevestnik MB

July 4, 2018

Via social media.

For some inexplicable reason a genuine medium altitude attack UAV hasn’t come out of Europe despite so many promising starts. This is what makes the existence of the Burevestnik MB all the more remarkable. As a product of a state-owned university’s corporate arm, a twin-boom design was used as the basis for an airframe that’s able to launch dumb and smart ordnance.

For Belarus to have armed drones at its disposal–and ready for export–is a significant leap by a country often dismissed as a technological backwater. Even Russia, with its gargantuan military build up, hasn’t managed a real attack UAV other than small models for artillery spotting.

The Burevestnik MB is unique for the shape of its nose, which isn’t cylindrical like most twin-boom UAVs. Owing to its newness details such as its engine type haven’t been revealed. It does have the usual drone accessories, however, like an optronic gimbal on its belly. The Burevestnik MB is designed for conventional takeoffs with its tricycle landing gear.

What truly sets it apart are the hardpoints underneath each wing. The Burevestnik MB can be armed with both rocket pods and missiles but to further advertise its manufacturer’s catalog it also transports small propeller-driven “kamikaze” loitering drones produced in Belarus.

There isn’t enough open source literature about the origins of the Burevestnik–the original model was a low altitude ISR drone–so its performance characteristics are hazy. Given the MB variant’s modest size and resemblance to the first Burevestniks, it’s not an exaggeration if it shares the same stats. The top speed on paper is probably the same at 120 kilometers per hour. As an attack UAV with a twin-boom airframe its altitude is below 16,000 feet with a maximum range of a few hundred kilometers.

How many mission hours does it log in? This remains a mystery.

To better grasp the niche occupied by the Burevestnik MB, it’s worth examining its closest peers. The Italian Falco, for example, can fly 16,400 ft high and remain airborne for up to 16 hours. Unlike the Burevestnik MB, however, it isn’t armed and carries a modest payload.

The Burevestnik MB almost looks like the South African Seeker 400, but the capabilities between them are so mismatched. Like the Falco, the Seeker 400 is an intelligence and surveillance asset and it boasts superb endurance that stretches to 16 hours. Another peer is the South Korean Night Intruder that’s equipped with a stronger engine but can only fly for several hours at a time.

Comparisons help establish the boundaries of a UAV like the Burevestnik MB. It may not be classed the very best but it’s certainly on par with the nearest competition and dangerous to boot, a perfect asset for a country obsessed with keeping the homefront stable.

It’s about time the rest of Europe acknowledged Belarus’ rise as a potential drone power–a non-NATO state that has mastered the development and production of unmanned systems for any use. None of Belarus’ neighbors fly something like the Burevestnik MB and the market for it is truly global. Potential customers in North Africa, the Middle East, the various -stans, and Southeast Asia are a given.

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