Tue, Oct 14, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Military putting new UAV prototype through key tests

By Brian Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The latest version of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) is undergoing its most difficult flight tests this week -- 12-hour flights at an altitude of 4,572m, defense sources said yesterday.

The Chunghsiang No. 3 will also undergo night-flight tests in Pingtung County on a daily basis to test its night vision cameras.

The flight tests are to determine whether the Chunghsiang No. 3 can meet international standards for unmanned flying machines of the same category.

The military has retained the option of buying foreign-made UAVs if the institute's vehicles cannot meet its demands.

Following this week's tests, the Chunghsiang No. 3 will be equipped with a new payload bought from abroad -- a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR).

With the radar system, the UAV will be able to execute missions in all weather conditions. Over the next few months, the SAR payload will be tested to see how it performs in the Taiwan's environment and whether it can be integrated into the vehicle's other systems.

The development of UAVs has been earmarked as a priority for the military's arms buildup over the next five years, according to a report the Ministry of National Defense recently presented to the legislature's National Defense Committee.

There has been a debate in the military over whether it is best to buy UAVs from abroad or to wait for the CSIST to develop models that meet international standards. The institute has developed four UAVs: the Chunghsiang No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and the Kestrel-II.

The UAV prototypes were simultaneously tested for the first time during Hankuang No. 19 live-fire exercise on Sept. 4. The UAVs relayed to the exercise's command center images they took of missiles hitting airborne or surface targets.

The images were then displayed on a giant TV wall for those observing the exercise to see. Many people, however, said that the quality of the images was not very good.

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