Warplanes: Japanese Civilian UAVs in China

Archives

January 23, 2006: Japanese police raided the offices of the Yamaha Corporation, looking for evidence of illegal export of UAVs to China. However, Yamaha protested that it had been exporting an agricultural UAV, the RMAX, to China, and many other countries, for years.

Yamaha began deliveries of a commercial UAV, the R-50, 18 years ago. It was a remotely controlled helicopter, meant for precisely delivering pesticides on hard to reach Japanese farm fields. Much Japanese farmland is in difficult to reach hillsides and terraces. The helicopter UAV was a cheaper and faster way to apply pesticides.

The R-50 was so successful that, in 1990, an improved model, the RMAX, was delivered. The low altitude (max altitude of 15 feet) model costs $86,000, while a higher flying version goes for up to $230,000. The most expensive system, including ground station, two helicopters and four cameras, cost a million dollars. The current models can stay for 90 minutes at a time, and carry a payload of 66 pounds worth of cameras, batteries and the like. RMAX uses GPS to aid navigation. RMAX can fly up to ten kilometers from its controller (basically a specially equipped laptop computer.)

The Japanese government accuses Yamaha of helping the Chinese steal the RMAX technology for use in military UAVs. RMAX has been used by police and security companies for surveillance. Yamaha says it only sold nine of the RMAX UAVs to China, and then only the basic agricultural models. Nearly 2,000 of the RMAX UAVs are in use, most of them in Japan. However, even the basic RMAX technology is more advanced than anything the Chinese have been able to develop themselves. Japan is becoming more aware of Chinese military technology, and the Chinese military threat to Japan. China is notorious for stealing foreign technology.

 


Article Archive

Warplanes: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

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