China’s AR-500C unmanned aerial vehicle prototype has completed a test flight at a high-altitude airport and has been confirmed to be capable of carrying a payload of 80 kilograms.
The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) revealed that its AR-500C had completed a series of tests in the southwestern province of Sichuan, which included climbing, hovering and turning manoeuvres before landing, South China Morning Post reported.
The reports come amid China’s border dispute with India and the recent build-up of Chinese troops in the Ladakh region.
Footage, first flight of AR500C highland UAV, designed for recon, electronic-recon and comm-relay. https://t.co/srMZ4uKaec pic.twitter.com/ZbatUHTk3e
— dafeng cao (@dafengcao) May 22, 2020
According to DefPost, the drone’s test flight area was at Daocheng Yading Airport, the highest civilian airport in the world, at 4,411 meters above sea level.
“The test flight area was at roughly the same altitude as the Himalayan region which includes the actual control line where China and India have a tense territorial confrontation,” the SCMP reported.
The AVIC detailed that the test flight itself provided confirmation that the AR-500C could carry an estimated payload of 80 kilograms while remaining in the air for a period of five hours or more.
AVIC's AR500C unmanned helicopter made its maiden flight on Tibetan Plateau. The data shows it can operate with 500kg max takeoff weight at an altitude up to 5,000M.
It's designed for recce, comm relay, electronic attack, fire strike n nuclear radiation recce at high altitude. pic.twitter.com/GsRuIvkMrm
— Eva 郑 عائشة (@evazhengll) September 28, 2020
“This means that on a plateau rescue mission you can deliver the life-saving food supply of more than 30 people on one flight,” said chief designer Zeng Guogui, quoted by SCMP.
The state corporation emphasized that the drone is capable of reaching the Tibetan plateau.
According to these images, the AR-500C successfully performed a test flight on the plateau on 27. September 2020.
(Images via @航空工业 from Weibo) pic.twitter.com/IzqMlN1taD
— @Rupprecht_A (@RupprechtDeino) September 27, 2020
The AVIC noted that the AR-500C is designed to be used in missions related to reconnaissance and communication transmission. However, DefPost noted that the drone is also capable of “electronic disturbance, target indication, fire attack, cargo delivery and recognition of nuclear radiation and chemical contamination.”