July 6, 2013 (TSR) – Vietnamese researchers are working hard in order to launch the first unmanned aircraft for military purposes of Vietnam later this year, Xinhua news agency reported, citing local media outlets Friday.
Colonel Do Van Lap, director of the Viettel Flight Instrument Center, said the center was tasked to create the first unmanned aircraft of Vietnam in November 2011. Last December, the first unmanned aircraft was tested. It could operate along mountain slopes in harsh weather with the temperature of about 10 degree Celsius and fog.
The VT-Patrol aircraft, with a wingspan of 3.3 meters, take-off weight of 26 kg, can automatically fly and transmit real-time information and images. The aircraft is made of composite to ensure durability and lightweight, reported online newspaper Vietnamnet.
Through the process of flight testing, experts successfully dealt with glaciations in some parts of the aircraft when flying at a temperature below 15 degree Celsius and humidity of over 90 percent.
VT-Patrol aircraft is capable of flying at a speed of 100 to 150 km per hour, and 50 km in distance. It is equipped with full High Definition (HD) infrared reconnaissance cameras which can identify and distinguish targets within a distance of 600 meters.
After the initial success, the center plans to manufacture midrange unmanned aircrafts with 15-24 hours of flight time for reconnaissance and then other devices such as missiles in order to strengthen defense capabilities of the country.
Vietnam flight tested six indigenously made Unmanned Aerials Vehicles (UAVs) in May.
After three days of tests, from May 17-19, in Da Lat city and Lac Duong district of Lam Dong province, six vehicles made by the Vietnam Space Technology Institute, under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST), successfully made 37 flights.
Earlier that month, the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology (VAST) had announced that it had built five indigenous UAVs, the first of their kind for Vietnam. The first of the drones—AV.UAV.MS1, AV.UAV.S1, AV.UAV.S2, AV.UAV.S3 and AV.UAV.S4— was initially tested in early May. The Vietnamese scientists who built the drones began researching them back in 2008, and the project was picked up by the state in 2011.
According to Vietnamese news media, the drones have a weight of 4 kg to 170 kg and wingspans ranging from 1.2 to 5 meters. The smallest of these “can fly at 70 kph [kilometers per hour] within a radius of 2 km and at a maximum altitude of 200 m,” while the biggest one “can fly at 180 kph, within a radius of 100 km and at an elevation of 3,000 meters. It can continuously fly for 6 hours in both daytime and nighttime.”
The unmanned aircraft are equipped with cameras, spectrometers and other devices and will be “used for [the] supervision of environmental natural resources in difficult direct approach territories; observation, communication and seashore rescue; exploration of natural resources, control of forest fire[s], and to follow the situation of national electricity system and transport,” VAST’s website has said.
It was not the only scientific breakthrough Hanoi achieved this month, with the country also launching its first remote sensing satellite, the VNRED Sat-1. The satellite was built largely with French funds, Xinhua reported at the time of the launch. Vietnam had previously launched two telecommunication satellites, the first in 2008 and another one last year.
The flight range of some of the drones tested this month can be extended using guiding satellites, according to local media reports.