May 24, 2012:
Egypt has arranged to build, under license, twelve Chinese ASN-209 UAVs. This is a 320 kg (704 pound) aircraft, with a 50 kg (110 pound) payload. The 209 model has a max endurance of ten hours but most missions are about eight hours. Max range from the control van is 200 kilometers and cruising speed is about 140 kilometers an hour.
A Chinese ASN-209 UAV unit consists of one control van and 6-10 trucks, each carrying a UAV and its catapult (with rocket boost) launch equipment. The UAV lands via parachute, so the aircraft gets banged up a lot. A UAV battalion, with ten aircraft, would not be able to provide round the clock surveillance for more than a week, at best. But Chinese planners believe this is adequate. The unit contains repair crews, equipment, and spare parts. This UAV can broadcast back live video and be equipped for electronic warfare.
The lack of persistence (the ability to stay in the air for long periods of time) means the Chinese are unable to use this most important of UAV capabilities. The Chinese are working on new UAVs that are closer to current U.S. designs. China has encouraged development of new UAVs, hoping that some entrepreneurial Chinese firm will produce UAVs similar to the superior American and Israeli models. The Chinese military holds expositions for current UAV designs and sends officers to examine the goods and hear the sales pitches. One of these expos featured over fifty new UAV designs. Many were very similar to existing models but some showed imagination and resourcefulness.