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An Owl-Inspired Russian Spy Drone

Marina Lystseva / TASS
Marina Lystseva / TASS


An Owl-Inspired Russian Spy Drone

  • Russia has unveiled its newly developed a combat surveillance Drone disguised as a bird of prey-in this case a snowy owl, at an annual military Expo in Moscow as per Moscow Times reports.
  • The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is designed to be difficult to detect, can track any assets and is equipped with a laser that gives it the ability to direct Russian fire to specific positions.
  • Biometric Drone designs are being tested in many countries because of their unique ability to hide in plain sight.

Footage from the event published by the ministry’s Zvezda news channel show the remote-controlled wheeled drone rolling across a grassy field before takeoff. From afar it might be able to pull off the disguise. But an up-close glimpse reveals eyes permanently affixed with a sedated expression and a gaping hole where a beak should be. The Drone a Technopolis era project which resembled a snowy owl choking on a mouthful of electronic equipment is reportedly equipped with the laser that gives it the ability to guide artillery and Laser guided bombs.

The state-run TASS news agency cited its developer as saying- viewed from the ground; the drone’s incognito appearance allows it to approach targets without being noticed. Weighing in at 5 kilograms and capable of identifying targets 10 meters away, the owl drone clocks in up to 40 minutes of flying time and can cover distances up to 20 kilometers, according to Interfax.  The developers also told TASS that it can be carried and launched by one person. Additionally this UAVs exterior can be modified to resemble a falcon or other birds of prey, Interfax reports said.

“What’s interesting is that Russian designers are thinking creatively about UAV applications,” Samuel Bendett a research analyst for the centre of Naval analysis told C4ISRNET while explaining, “Biomimicry allows UAVs to operate in areas where a regular looking UAV would have been sighted and eliminated”.

Bendett went on to add, “In Russia’s part of Eurasia where hunting Birds like owls falcons and Eagles a very common you will be that looks like a bird can become an invaluable ISR asset. It can basically hide in plain sight. Up close it is easy to see the Drone is in fact a machine but at a distance it becomes much harder to tell it apart from a bird in flight.”

The stated purpose of the design showcased last year was to tract assets and other vehicles and then direct fire to those positions.

Drones with biometric designs whilst range or not all that new. The Zukhovsky-Gagarin Air Force Academy presented an owl shaped design last year. A few years ago a fruit grown resembling a bird and believed to be the property of the Somali government crashed in Mogadishu robotic birds have been tested in Canada to scare Birds away from airports and China has designed Recon drones that fly move and look like dogs for domestic surveillance operations.

Not one to be outshone, the U.S. intelligence community is reportedly developing lightweight owl spy drones of its own.

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Cite this article as: Phillip Smith, "An Owl-Inspired Russian Spy Drone," in, June 27, 2019,

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