MOSCOW, May 10 (UPI) -- Russian paratroopers will have unmanned aircraft capabilities in three to five years, Russian airborne forces commander Col. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov said Friday.
Unmanned aerial vehicles "already exist within the reconnaissance and special operations sections, in the artillery and the air-defense sections of the airborne forces," Shamanov said. "In line with accepted international practice, we intend to further develop the unmanned component of our forces."
Shamanov said the Russian Defense Ministry's decision to buy Israeli-made drones gave Russia the push to develop its own, RIA Novosti reported.
However, work creating the drones experienced "lengthy delays," Shamanov said. "The airborne forces were [providing] and will continue to provide a platform for experimentation in testing new forms of technology."
In January, Shamanov oversaw tests on a prototype Russian-made drone called Seeker, RIA Novosti said. The reconnaissance package includes a base station carried in a backpack, a tablet computer showing images from the drones' cameras that also is a control unit, and two unmanned aerial vehicles.
Capable of flying 40 minutes, they produce their optimum picture at an altitude of about 650 feet and have a ceiling of just less than 2 1/2 miles.
RIA Novosti said the cost of the Seeker units is about $95,600.