Warplanes: Keeping UAV Secrets

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June 10, 2007: China is determined to develop state-of-the-air UAVs, but has so far been frustrated by American success at preventing the transfer of UAV technology to China. Before the U.S. cracked down, China has obtained sufficient Israeli UAV technology to build stuff like the ASN-105, a 308 pound aircraft with a payload if 88 pounds and endurance of only two hours. These have recently been converted from using film cameras, to video cameras. A larger UAV, the ASN-206, weighs 488 pounds, and has much more endurance (about eight hours). China can use off-the-shelf technology for the vidcams and communications. But they are discovering, as the U.S. did, that building a reliable UAV (airframe, engine, electrical system) is where the real challenge is. Thus China is putting a lot of money and talent into building competitive UAVs. This effort includes getting, via purchase, theft or bribery, as much useful foreign UAV technology as possible. Counter-intelligence agencies in the West have noted an increased Chinese interest in UAV technology.

 


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