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Albatross / Teng Yun (Cloud Rider)
medium-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV)

By 2020 Taiwan's military had the "Albatross UAV" developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with a maximum range of 160 miles (approximately 300 kilometers), limited remote control technology, and unable to break through the cruising distance. Research and development of a larger armed drone "Tengyun" had encountered bottlenecks and failed to enter the combat readiness application. Resembling the American MQ-1 Predator, a prototype of the Teng Yun drone was unveiled in 2015, and the NCSIST has been working to further develop the indigenous UAV. The Teng Yun can conduct both daytime and nighttime surveillance missions, and is also capable of carrying missiles on combat missions. Developed by the Aeronautical Systems Research Division (ASRD) of NCSIST, which is presently Taiwan’s primary military research and development agency, the MALE UAV is close in size to the General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) MQ-9 Reaper UAV. NCSIST’s MALE UAV, which was unveiled at the TADTE 2015 show, has a 17-m wingspan, can fly for 24 h, reach an altitude of 25,000 ft, and has a range of over 1,000 km.

Access to accurate and timely intelligence is essential to effective command and control in a battle situation. The Albatross Tactical UAS were designed in composite material structures and modular system. They were equipped with optical EO/IR payloads and characterized by long endurance flight, GPS navigation systems, autopilot ability, real time data and video transmission and communications relay. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones used in the military in the early days require no pilots and were remotely-controlled through wireless communication networks. In recent years, due to the development of Internet of Things (IoT), making drones more prevalent in commerce, agriculture, and national defense.

In military applications, the UAS are used for day and night surveillance and reconnaissance, target acquisition and designation and battlefield damage assessment, etc. All the real time imagery and data can be transmitted to ground control station for the relay transmission system to assist to transmit information to the C4ISR, which play preemptive and combined operations effects. The systems can also widely be used for civil applications such as agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry, disaster monitoring, environmental protection, traffic control, target searching, position recognition, coastal patrol, communications relay and hazardous terrain survey, etc.

Albatross drones are used for daytime and nighttime surveillance and reconnaissance, target acquisition and designation, battlefield damage assessment etc. In addition, all real time imagery and data can be transmitted to ground control stations to assist with the rapid flow of information to the C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems, which plays a key role in combined operations.

The Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology is the nation’s main weapons research and development unit. Located in Taoyuan County, CSIST is the primary research and development institution under the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of China. In addition to the development of weapon systems, the research organization has been active in the field of technologies with dual use in recent years. The drone fleet models were developed by the division, with the production and integration of components coming from more than 20 Taiwanese companies, generating NT$1.34 billion (US$42.95 million) in derived business revenues.

A new range of remote-controlled aircraft developed by Taiwan's National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) was unveiled in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung on 09 December 2014. The two drones "Cardinal" and "Albatross", each weighing 5 and 450 kilograms, are expected to be used for a wide range of missions, including disaster relief, environmental observation and national defense,

Taiwan’s National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) used the IDEX 2017 show in Abu Dhabi to display a model of an armed version of a medium-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (MALE UAV) that it unveiled in 2015. NCSIST showed the model carrying with what appear to be two ground-attack missiles similar in size to the Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire laser- or radar-guided battlefield missile. A senior NCSIST official at IDEX refused to comment about the possibility of Taiwan developing an indigenous UAV-capable air-to-surface missile similar to the Hellfire, stating only that details about the armed version of the MALE UAV would be revealed at the Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition (TADTE) 2017.

The larger Albatross drones were initially in service with the Air Force Special Forces of the Republic of China. With a wingspan of 8.7 meters, this unmanned aircraft (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle UAV) flights of 10 hours or longer to complete and have a range of 120 kilometers. With its capacity for heavier payloads, the Albatross also promises immense potential in military applications. The drones were in September 2017 formally transferred from the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command to the Naval Fleet Command, which is now responsible for their combat readiness and maintenance. On 24 January 2018 two U.S. naval vessels sailed through the strait and Taiwan's Navy held its first-ever fly-over demonstration using the locally manufactured Albatross unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) off the southernmost county of Pingtung.

The drone gave its first public takeoff, landing and fly-over demonstration at a military base in Pingtung on 23 January 2019. The joint military operation simulated a scenario in which an Yilan (DDG-1802) Keelung-class guided-missile destroyer and Kun Ming (FFG-1205) Kang Ding class frigate were sent into waters off Taiwan to protect the country from ballistic missile attacks, while the Albatross drone was dispatched to gather aerial intelligence and send back real-time images.

The military announced on 17 May 2020 that in response to the January 2019 drone crash and other mechanical failures, its entire fleet of Albatross unmanned aerial vehicles is to be upgraded. To prevent future crashes, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCIST) has developed what it is calling the “Albatross Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Disappearance Source Management and Operational Reliability Improvement Program.” It has already upgraded 26 Albatrosses to improve mechanical stability and enhance flight safety. As of mid-2020 Taiwan currently had 26 Albatross drones.

The Taiwan military said 07 August 2020 the development of its domestically made "Teng Yun" (Cloud Rider) drone was right on schedule, following news the country is close to finalizing a purchase of four General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers from the US. Resembling the American MQ-1 Predator, a prototype of the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone was first exhibited in 2015. An improved model had been in development by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) since then. It is compatible with the U.S. AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, which have a range of 0.5-8 km. The development plan had been successful and would continue to move forward as scheduled. However, Taiwan's Air Force will not purchase the unmanned aerial vehicle unless its systems measure up to national defense criteria, the official said. According to the official, some components of Teng Yun are imported, and the military is hoping to shake off its dependence on foreign countries in the future.

The final prototype of the new Teng Yun left the laboratory next December 2019. Subsequently, in January 2020, the unmanned vehicle will enter the testing phase and from 2021 tests will be carried out in mock combat scenarios.

On 21 October 2020 a long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was developed in Taiwan was launched on a rare test flight over the ocean off the east coast of the country. The medium-altitude Teng Yun UAV took off from Taitung Air Base around 5 p.m. Tuesday, heading out over the Pacific Ocean, then returned to the base around 7 p.m. It was a rare long distance test flight for the UAV, which was developed by the military's top research unit, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), and normally takes only short flights over the Taitung Air Base.

wingspan 8.6-meter
length 5.3-meter
Payload weight > 100 lb / 55 kilograms
Cruise speed 60 kts
Ceiling > 13000 ft
Endurance 10-12 hours
flight range 180-km
Albatross UAV Albatross UAV Albatross UAV Albatross UAV Albatross UAV

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Page last modified: 06-10-2021 12:15:00 ZULU