China's first unmanned helicopter designed for high-altitude operations recently made its maiden flight which the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) eventually plans to deploy along its border with India.
The AR500C unmanned helicopter, developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), on Wednesday successfully made its maiden flight at an AVIC base in Poyang, East China's Jiangxi Province, in which it conducted several maneuvers including hovering, horizontal and vertical moves, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Saturday.
The unmanned helicopter is designed for reconnaissance, communication relay, electronic attack and fire strike at high altitude. The drone could help safeguard China's southwestern borders with India, analysts told state-owned Global Times on Sunday.
“The test flight of the AR500C came at a time when China-India border tensions have been flaring up, as Chinese border defense troops have bolstered border control measures and made necessary moves in response to India's recent, illegal construction of defense facilities across the border into Chinese territory in the Galwan Valley region,” the report said.
Designed to fly automomously in plateau areas, the AR500C can take off at an elevation of 5,000 meters and has a ceiling of 6,700 meters. It has an endurance of five hours, maximum speed of 170 kilometers an hour and a maximum takeoff weight of 500 kilograms. It is installed with a number of advanced flight programs for efficient and safe flights.
While its main missions are reconnaissance and communication relay, but when equipped with additional devices, it can also run electronic attack, target indication, fire strike, cargo delivery and nuclear radiation and chemical contamination reconnaissance, according to an AVIC statement.
"We utilize advanced aerodynamic design for the rotors. Since the power of the engine will drop significantly on plateaus, we use China's most advanced engine," Fang Yonghong, technology director at AVIC's helicopter branch, said on CCTV.