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Taiwanese vs. Chinese Drones – Who Comes Out on Top? – Part 3

Daniel Kim Views  

軍 감시정찰…대만 무인정찰기 vs 중국 무인정찰기, 누가 더 쌔나[이현호 기자의 밀리터리!톡]
Taiwan’s attack reconnaissance drone Teng Yun MU1811. Photo by Yonhap News

Taiwan is bolstering its surveillance capabilities in response to the threat of invasion from China. It plans to acquire four additional MQ-9B Sky Guardian drones from the U.S., building on the purchase of four reconnaissance MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones in 2020. Deliveries of the 2020 purchases are expected from 2025, while the current acquisitions are set to be completed by 2027. These measures aim to enhance Taiwan’s ability to monitor recent military threats from China using long-range drones closely.

The Sky Guardian drone is an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft capable of providing real-time information to allies under all weather conditions, operating day and night for over 40 hours. Taiwan’s military anticipates a substantial enhancement in surveillance capabilities against China by collaborating with the Teng Yun medium-altitude drone. The Teng Yun, with a flight range of 1,000km and a flight time of 24 hours, was developed domestically by Taiwan, drawing inspiration from the U.S.’s MQ-9 Reaper attack drone.

Taiwan has signed a 250 million U.S. dollar contract with GAAS, a subsidiary of U.S. defense contractor General Atomics, to purchase four Sky Guardian drones, ground control equipment, spare parts, and support equipment by 2027.

This contract follows a previous order by the U.S. Air Force for four Sky Guardians worth 218 million U.S. dollars last May to aid Taiwan’s defense against a potential Chinese invasion. Additionally, the U.S. approved the sale of MQ-9B Sea Guardian drones worth 600 million U.S. dollars to Taiwan in November 2020.

軍 감시정찰…대만 무인정찰기 vs 중국 무인정찰기, 누가 더 쌔나[이현호 기자의 밀리터리!톡]
The MQ-9B Sky Guardian reconnaissance drone that Taiwan has decided to introduce. Photo provided by General Atomics

The MQ-9B Sky Guardian, manufactured by U.S. General Atomics, offers significantly greater flight range and endurance than Taiwan’s Albatross drone. Developed by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), the Albatross measures 5.3m (about 17.4 feet) in length, has a wingspan of 8.6m (about 28.2 feet), weighs 317kg (about 699 pounds), operates within a range of 180km (about 111.8 miles), and can stay airborne for up to 12 hours. Taiwan currently possesses 32 units of the Albatross drone.

On the other hand, the Sky Guardian, the latest model in the MQ-9 drone series, is designed for medium-altitude long-endurance missions, specializing in information collection, surveillance, and reconnaissance. According to Defense Post, a defense specialist media outlet, “the Sky Guardian can fly beyond the horizon for over 40 hours even in bad weather through satellite communication.”

According to General Atomics, the MQ-9B has a length of 11.7m (about 38.4 feet) and a width of 24m (about 78.7 feet). Its maximum takeoff weight is 5.67t (about 12,500 pounds), with a fuel load weight of 2.7t (about 5,952 pounds). The drone features nine mounting points, including the wings and fuselage center, capable of accommodating various sensors and weapons with a payload weight of 2.155t (about 4,750 pounds). Additionally, it is equipped with a Honeywell turboprop engine located at the rear of the aircraft.

It utilizes the C-band for data link communication, while beyond line-of-sight communication is facilitated through the X-band and Ku-band. It offers real-time situational awareness with features such as an electro-optical and infrared camera, Lynx 360-degree maritime search radar, and Automatic Identification System (AIS). With a flight altitude of 12.2km (approximately 7.6 miles), a flight range of 6,000 nautical miles, and a flight time exceeding 40 hours, the Sky Guardian surpasses Taiwan’s Albatross, which has a flight time of 12 hours and a cruising range of 300km (approximately 186.4 miles).

To Read Part 1…
To Read Part 2…

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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