PLAN VT-UAV-X Maritime Unmanned Helicopter
In late June 2020 a photograph emerged that showed a mockup of a helicopter UAV on the deck of a Type 075 amphibious assault ship. Rupprecht noted "My feeling tells me its a new clean sheet design but given its shape it seems to be similar to an enlarged CHRDI (Chinese Helicopter Research and Development Institute) AV500C." Chinese MIlitary Aviation reported "It was speculated in June 2020 that a shipborne VTOL UAV similar to American MQ-8B is being developed for PLAN by the 602 Institute. The UAV is expected to be stationed onboard the new Type 075 LHD and Type 055 DDG."
A persistent unmanned aircraft system (UAS) airborne surveillance capability expands maritime domain awareness and disseminates actionable intelligence on maritime hazards and threats. The MQ-8 provides day and night real-time ISR target acquisition, using the Brite Star II turret electro-optical/infrared/laser designator-range finder payload and maritime search radar, along with other modular mission specific payloads for voice communications relay and battlefield management support to the tactical commander.
Yamaha Motor Co. LTD began developing industrial-use, unmanned helicopters in the 1980s. In 1990 Yamaha delivered the first unmanned helicopter for crop dusting. Among a total of 1,565 unmanned helicopters, 1,220 units of Yamaha unmanned helicopter had been sold and were in use as of October 2001, in Japan. There were two reasons why unmanned helicopters became popular in Japan. First, the unmanned helicopter had performance that farmers can control it easily and spray paddy fields effectively. Second, the unmanned helicopters are safely operated in Japan.
The US Navy the Navy hasy been using them since 2009. The MQ-8B Fire Scout is a UAV helicopter primarily used for reconnaissance. First deployed in 2009, the MQ-8B has logged more than 10,000 flight hours including missions in Afghanistan. It is launchable from any naval vessel with aircraft-launching capability. Manufactured by Northrop Grumman, the Fire Scout has two options of operation: a fixed control system for shipboard use and a portable system for ground forces use.
The MQ-8B equipped systems have deployed from Guided Missile Frigates (FFG) and Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). With vehicle endurance greater than five hours, a system equipped with three MQ-8B air vehicles is capable of 12 continuous hours of operations providing coverage 110 nautical miles from the launch site.
In addition to HSC-23, Fire Scout customers include HSC-21 and the Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) System at Point Mugu. Unmanned systems have revolutionized combat aviation, providing a colossal advantages with surveillance and close-air support. In December 2011 a detachment of US Marines from Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 in Afghanistan added aerial resupply to the list of UAV capabilities.
A larger and faster model, the MQ-8C offers a longer operating capability and can accommodate about 400 pounds more of payload than its predecessor. Its maiden flight was in 2013, and delivery to the US Navy was complete the following year.
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