The previously unknown “Beijing Black Buzzard Aviation Technology Limited”, a privately owned Chinese company, has unveiled two micro-turbine powered unmanned air vehicles and a joined tandem wing UAV.
Exhibited for the first time at the Beijing Aviation Expo 2007, in September, the two micro-turbo powered systems – designated HFT-40A and HFT-60A – show characteristics more aligned with high speed target drones but are being promoted as surveillance assets with the potential to be used in civilian roles. A full size HFT-60A airframe was displayed at the show.
Company data indicates HFT-60A is capable of flying above 600km p/h, has an operational radius of 150km, and an endurance of greater than 3h. The type has a span of 2.3m, a length of 3.43m and a maximum takeoff weight of 90kg.
The UAV is said to incorporate a fully autonomous guidance system with this programmed by a single lap top computer modified to act as a portable ground station. The air vehicle uses a rail launcher and parachute landing.
HFT-40A has a top speed of above 500km p/h, an operational radius of 80km and an endurance of around 3h. The overall type length is 3.23m in length with a span of 2.1m. Maximum take off weight is given as 45kg.
The company’s exhibition stand indicates at least five different micro-turbines in its current design portfolio. The HFT-60A engine type is given as the VWP-60, with this representative of the mid sized units made by the company.
The joined wing type, shown only in photographs on the company’s exhibition booth, has close conceptual parallels with the Seattle-based DARA Aviation D-1A type, particularly in the use of the low mounted forward wing and high rear wing, and multiple tails. The forward fuselage profile is also near identical.
© Peter Ricketts
The Chinese type was shown at the Beijing expo in a camouflage paint scheme both in the air and on the ground, indicating a proposed tactical application.
© Peter Ricketts
It appears to be powered by a pusher propeller however neither photo shows clear details of the aft airframe sections. The type has a wide tricycle undercarriage indicating an expectation that it would operate from unprepared strips.