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    Russia Starts Flight Tests of 'Orion' Reconnaissance Drone

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    Russia has started testing its "Orion" reconnaissance drone, a source in the military defense sector told RIA Novosti Friday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The expected flight endurance of the “Orion” is at least 24 hours, while the altitude – about five miles. The drone will also carry a  pay load of up to 660 pounds.

    “At the Gromov Flight Research Institute [in the Moscow Region] tests of the medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle ‘Orion’ have started,” the source said.

    The Russian Defense Ministry signed a contract for the development of the drone with the Russian Kronshtadt company, formerly known as Transas, in October 2016.

    Transas initially planned that the drone would weigh about a metric ton but at the MAKS-2015 air show the company's chairman, Nikolai Lebedev, announced the take-off weight had been increased by more than 400 pounds.

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