Chinese firm eyes overseas market as strike drone Yaoying-2 makes maiden flight

Developed by state-owned Avic, it has both civilian and military uses

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 7:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 July, 2018, 9:41pm

A Chinese home-grown strike drone made its maiden flight on Tuesday, according to its developer, state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

The Yaoying-2 can carry out civilian tasks such as surveying and mapping, but also has military uses, including counterterrorism operations, Avic said on Thursday.

Along with other strike drones exported by China – such as the Rainbow series and Wing Loong – the company is eyeing the international market for its unmanned aerial vehicle, which it calls the “Air Sniper”.

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Tuesday’s flight left from Anshun Huangguoshu Airport in southwestern Guizhou province, Avic said, without giving further details.

The six-metre drone can fly at speeds of up to 230km/h at an altitude of 7,500 metres, which is in the middle to high range compared with its peers. It can stay in the air for 16 hours, with controllers up to 200km away, according to the developer.

The drone is based on the Yaoying-1, which was developed by the same company in 2011 for civilian uses such as surveying and mapping.

The new model can provide real-time images and monitor information for use in scenarios such as firefighting, as well as land resource surveys, according to the company.

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China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, which developed the Rainbow series, put the value of export deals for such strike drones at around US$700 million, without elaborating.

The state-owned company made the estimate in a document submitted for a Chinese science award early this year. Its Rainbow 4 is sold for US$4 million, and such drones have been used by overseas buyers for counterterrorism and border inspection missions, according to the document.