China is planning to use its new AT200 cargo unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to carry out deliveries to the country’s military bases in the South China Sea, according to the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
“Because of its strong performance, the UAV can not only carry out military transport missions… [it] will [also] play an important role in securing military supplies for islands and islets in the South China Sea,” said the institute in a 27 October statement.
With a maximum take-off weight of around 3.4 tonnes and a payload of 1.5 tonnes, the AT200 has been described as China’s heaviest cargo UAV. Based on a Pacific Aerospace Limited P-750 XSTOL light utility turboprop, the UAV was jointly developed by the Institute of Engineering Thermophysics and SF Express Group. It conducted its maiden flight on 26 October in China’s northwestern Shaanxi Province.
The UAV, which can fly for up to eight hours, has a cruise speed of 313 km/h, a flight range of 2,183 km and a service ceiling of around 6,100 m, according to the institute. The AT200, which is powered by a 750 hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-34 turboprop, reportedly only requires a 200 m long runway to conduct take-offs and landings.
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