Remember the THOR Transformer Drone that could both hover and cruise equally well, combining the characteristics of an airplane and a helicopter? Well, it turns out that Russia's Kronstadt Group, a military manufacturer in Russia, has successfully manufactured a flying model of a frigate drone that does exactly that. If CEO of the Kronstadt Group, Vladimir Voronov, is to be believed, that is.
According to SputnikNews, Voronov claimed that "Kronstadt created a drone that can fly both as a plane and as a helicopter. Owing to this feature, its flying range is increased by three times comparing to a helicopter drone." In other words, the drone would lift off vertically like a helicopter, then cruise to its destination like an airplane. If you're looking for a video example of this multi-purpose feature, take a look at the THOR drone, of which we actually have some video evidence.
The CEO of Kronstadt added that a "vertical take-off aircraft is the Holy Grail of modern aviation. AgustaWestland and Lockheed Martin, as well as other leaders of the aviation industry, are working on that." The plan, according to SputnikNews, is to have a two-tonne frigate drone with these abilities implemented by 2020, with a bigger, seven-tonne frigate drone produced by 2023. According to Voronov, the former version would not require any particular type of airfield to take-off and would be regarded as an unmanned aerial combat vehicle. According to SputnikNews, Kronstadt Group is also working on the Orion Surveillance Drone which would be available for export to other states.
Now, we've been duped before, when it came to a product that hadn't produced a large amount of evidence of its existence, from a company boasting about its capabilities. For complete disclosure, the most significant alternate sources we've found for the Kronstadt Group's frigate drone are an article on Defence-Blog (which seems to be an earlier prototype model) and a piece on RTNews. If all is to be believed, the SputnikNews piece regards the actual, flying, most recent version of these earlier UAVs. Whatever the case may be - we will be sure to keep you posted on this potential multipurpose UAV.