Kazakhstan is testing some new unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs, aka drones) from Russia, a military official has said. Kazakhstan had tried out UAVs from France and Israel but they didn't do well in the cold weather, said General-Major Almaz Dzhumakeev, commander of Kazakhstan's 36th Air Assault Brigade:
"It's necessary to strengthen the reconnaissance units. There will be a competition, a selection, we will see which is acceptable for us and our climate, taking into account the wind and the cold. There have been UAVs which took off, flew 20 meters and crashed because it was so cold..."
According to the general-major, in 2014 after the selection of the supplier country the UAVs will enter service in the armed reconnaissance units of the armed forces of Kazakhstan. "Most likely, next year they will enter service. Where there is reconnaissance, there will be UAVs," he noted.
Kazakhstan has plans to produce its own drones, and also apparently has plans to buy some small reconnaissance drones from the Russian Irkut Corporation.It's also been looking at Chinese UAVs. It's not clear from the recent news stories, but it seems likely that the Irkuts are what Maj-Gen Dzhumakeev was talking about. From the website Russian Aviation, last October:
The Kazakh Ministry of Defense (MoD) will purchase 10 Irkut-10 unmanned reconnaissance aircraft systems (UAS) from Irkut Corporation, Lenta.ru reports.
The first four UASs will be delivered in 2012. The cost of the vehicles has not been unveiled. According to the president of Yak Alacon, Alexander Toporov, besides Irkut-10 UAVs, Kazakhstan may also purchase a large batch of Irkut-3 UAVs...
Irkut-10 is intended for day-and-night surveillance and reconnaissance. Each Irkut-10 unmanned aircraft system includes 2 UAVs and ground control and maintenance facilities. Each UAV has a maximum endurance of 2 hours and a radius of 70 km. UAV’s maximum speed is 120 km/h. The vehicle’s wing span is 2 m, maximum takeoff weight is 8.5 kg (including maximum payload of 1.5 kg).
Irkut-3 UAS is also formed by two UAVs and control and maintenance facilities. This UAV is relatively compact: it has a wing span of 2 m and takeoff weight of only 3 kg. Its radius is 15 km and its endurance is 75 minutes. The vehicle’s maximum speed is 90 km/h.
Certainly, their origin in Irkutsk would seem to bode well for cold-weather capability. These sorts of small reconnaissance drones are pretty de rigeur for militaries these days; indeed, the remarkable thing is that it seems to have taken this long for Kazakhstan to get them into service.