Taitung, A long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that was developed in Taiwan was launched on a rare test flight over the ocean off the east coast of the country Tuesday.
The medium-altitude Teng Yun UAV took off from Taitung Air Base around 5 p.m. Tuesday, heading out over the Pacific Ocean, then returned to the base around 7 p.m.
It was a rare long distance test flight for the UAV, which was developed by the military’s top research unit, the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), and normally takes only short flights over the Taitung Air Base.
The unusual test flight gave rise to speculations among military observers in Taiwan that it was linked to the Air Force’s annual Tien Lung drill that kicked off on Oct. 19 and will continue until Oct. 30.
Asked to comment, military spokesman Shih Shun- wen (史順文) told CNA Wednesday, however, that the Teng Yun long-distance test flight was unrelated to the military exercise.
Resembling the American MQ-1 Predator, a prototype of the Teng Yun drone was unveiled in 2015, and the NCSIST has been working to further develop the indigenous UAV.
The Teng Yun can conduct both daytime and nighttime surveillance missions, the NCSIST says on its website, and according to the local media, the drone is also capable of carrying missiles on combat missions.
The annual Tien Lung drill features the Air Force’s Mirage-2000-5s, IDFs, F-16s, and P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft and includes live missile-firing exercises, according to the Military News Agency.
The newly upgraded F-16 Vs are also taking part in the drill, the news agency said Tuesday.
The drill is being conducted in eastern Taiwan amid an escalation of coercion by China, which has been sending its military assets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and across the median line of Taiwan Strait in recent weeks, as the U.S. and Taiwan have been engaged in discussions on closer military and political cooperation.
On Wednesday, a Chinese Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft entered Taiwan’s southwest ADIZ, the 22nd day of such incursions since Sept. 16, according to the Ministry of National Defense.
Taiwan’s Air Force responded by scrambling planes to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issuing radio warnings and mobilizing air defense systems, the ministry said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel