Air Platforms

Tengden readies production-ready TB001 armed reconnaissance UAV

28 March 2019

The twin-engined TB001 unmanned aerial vehicle shown alongside new anti-ship and ground-attack precision munitions at Airshow China 2018. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

China's Sichuan Tengden Technology Company (Tengden) has test flown a production-ready model of its medium altitude long endurance (MALE)-class TW328/TB001 armed reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), according to reports by local media.

Images of the TB001, known locally as the 'Twin-tailed Scorpion' and shown bearing the serial number of TB1A0101, was launched from an undisclosed airfield - believed to be Liangping Airport, a civilian-military dual-use facility - in southwest China on 20 March and reportedly flew for about 20 minutes before being recovered. The successful trial marks a key milestone in the air vehicle's development, the reports said, paving the way for serial production and delivery to undisclosed customers.

It is understood that further development work had been done to improve the reliability and stability of the TB001's electronic architecture prior to the trial.

According to company specifications, the TB001 has maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 2,800 kg, as well as an overall wingspan of 20 m, a length of 10 m, and a height of 3.3 m. The air vehicle features a twin-boom airframe design incorporating forward-mounted turbocharged piston engines of unknown output - equipped with three bladed propellers in a tractor configuration - in each boom, terminating in vertical tails joined by a high-mounted tailplane. Retractable undercarriage has also been fitted for reduced aerodynamic drag.

This arrangement enables the air vehicle to attain an operational ceiling of 26,246 ft (8,000 m), with a maximum range of 6,000 km and endurance of 35 hours when carrying a 1,000 kg payload. Line-of-sight (LOS) control range is quoted as 280 km, although it can also be equipped with a satellite communication (satcom) datalink to extend command radius to up to 3,000 km.

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