Chinese companies and institutions are developing a range of helicopter unmanned air vehicles for military and civilian applications.

Some of the UAVs and models of conceptual aircraft were on display at the Aviation Expo/China 2011 trade show in Beijing.

One of the systems, the Sunward Tech SUV200, has a 200kg (441lb) payload capacity, and was ostensibly built for the monitoring of power lines. However, a video also showed it being used for military applications, such as firing rockets and delivering supplies to soldiers.

Dennis Fetters, a freelance UAV designer who worked with Sunward on the project, said the SUV200 will have its first flight in three months. The aircraft has a 75hp (55kW) engine, and an endurance of up to 3h.

 © Greg Waldron/Flightglobal
Sunward Tech SUV200

Sunward plans to sell two units and a ground control station for yuan 10 million ($1.6 million). The aircraft can carry a range of weapons and sensors, and has two small internal storage compartments.

Other helicopter UAVs on display included the Beijing Youtaishuncheng Technology Development M28, with contra-rotating blades, and several others using a conventional helicopter layout.

"The big advantage of helicopter UAVs is that they can deliver cargo," said Fetters.

Beijing Youtaishuncheng Technology Development M28
 © Greg Waldron/Flightglobal
Beijing Youtaishuncheng Technology Development M28

The China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation also displayed an animated video of three UAV concepts. These included the WJ-600, a full-sized model of which appeared at last year's Air Show China in Zhuhai.

In the video, the WJ-600 operates over both land and sea, attacking moving land targets and ships with missiles. It is also depicted blinding the sensors on warships with an electronic warfare capability.

The UAV is shown as being launched with rocket assistance from a large trailer, as opposed to using a runway - the preferred method for large UAVs developed in the West. This could reflect a concern in Beijing that its airfields would be compromised in the event of a conflict.

Source: Flight International