Naval Air: Chinese UAVs Go To Sea


July 14, 2011: Chinese warships were recently seen, for the first time, operating UAVs at sea (over a thousand kilometers south of Okinawa). Japanese P-3 maritime reconnaissance aircraft spotted a fixed wing UAV taking off, using rockets, from a destroyer , and landing in the water, being recovered via a net. This UAV appeared to be a navalized version of the most numerous model used by the Chinese army; the ASN-206. This is a 222 kg (488 pound) aircraft, with a 50 kg (110 pound) payload. It has a max endurance of eight hours, but more common is an endurance of four hours. Max range from the control equipment is 150 kilometers and cruising speed is about 180 kilometers an hour. This UAV uses a catapult to launch itself from the helicopter deck of a destroyer or frigate.  The UAV lands via parachute, so the aircraft get banged up a lot.

The U.S. Navy has been doing this for two decades, but is switching to helicopter UAVs, and is currently using the MQ-8B (formerly the RQ-8) Fire Scout. The first to carry this helicopter UAV was a Perry class frigate, the USS McInerney (FFG-8) two years ago. Assigned to the 4th Fleet, and this ship operates in the Caribbean, chasing drug smugglers. Prior to this assignment, the Fire Scout underwent 110 takeoffs and landings on the frigate, and 600 hours of flight testing.

The MQ-8B can stay in the air for up to eight hours at a time (five hour missions are more common), has a top speed of 230 kilometers an hour, and can operate up to 230 kilometers from its controller (on land, or a ship.) The MQ-8B is also being used on the new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).

Chinese firms have also developed helicopter UAVs, but none have been seen on warships yet.



Article Archive

Naval Air: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close