(From Popular Science)
By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer
The U560 amphibious drone recently completed its first test flight reports Liberation Daily News, a Chinese newspaper. Flying off of a lake in Jiangsu province, the drone’s flight took 30 minutes.
Built by Vita Smart Systems Limited, a private sector Chinese aerospace firm, after a three year research study, the U560 has a wingspan of 12 meters and is 6 meters long, roughly the size of a small utility airplane like the Cessna 172 or the Predator B drone. Its lightweight, 98% carbon fiber fuselage enables the U560 to fly with a range of 2,000km on just 150 kilograms of fuel. It’s also sturdy enough to take off and land in rough maritime weather conditions.
Despite being amphibious, the U560’s top speed of 260km per hour is faster than the Predator’s 217 km per hour maximum speed. Liberation Daily News also noted that the U560 uses satellite communications, datalinks and a measure of autonomy to fly reconnaissance missions with minimal human input, such as using cameras and radar to patrol preselected areas of water for submarine periscopes. The U650 is likely derived from the S-100, another Vita Smart Systems Limited/UVS amphibious drone that debuted at the 2014 Zhuhai Air Show (the U650’s landing gear is retractable). Read more