A combat drone developed by Taiwan's top military research unit is currently undergoing initial flight tests before it enters combat testing scheduled for June next year, a military source told CNA Thursday.
The tests of the second generation Teng Yun (??) or "Cloud Rider" prototype are being conducted after a previous version crashed in eastern Taiwan earlier this year, which delayed the drone's development, the source told CNA on condition of anonymity.
The new generation prototype currently under testing has various upgrades from the first generation drone that crashed in February, the source said, without elaborating.
Developed by the National Chung Shan Institute of Science & Technology (NCSIST), the first drone was originally scheduled to undergo combat testing this June. NCSIST has attributed the crash near eastern Taitung Air Base to "a system anomaly."
The setback meant the NCSIST had to push back its original schedule.
NCSIST expects to conduct combat testing of the new drone next June, the source added.
Taiwan's military has a five-step new-weapon development process that includes initial conceptual design, related engineering development, initial testing, and combat readiness testing, before entering mass production.
The military source made the remarks after local media earlier Thursday released a photograph of the latest generation unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) taken recently at eastern Hualien Air Base.
The photo published by the Chinese-language Liberty Times shows the UCAV decorated with the Republic of China (Taiwan) national flag and the name "NCSIST ASRD" emblazoned on the side.
ASRD stands for NCSIST's aeronautical systems research division.
The Teng Yun is a medium UCAV that resembles the U.S. MQ-1 Predator and is compatible with the AGM-114 Hellfire. A prototype was first made public at the Taipei Aerospace & Defense Technology Exhibition in 2015.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel