A rising global superpower must have an advanced aerospace industry to sustain dominance. When it comes to drone development, China has been rapidly advancing the technology and exporting the aircraft across the world -- taking precious market share away from the U.S.
Chinese media is reporting that Chengdu-based Tengden Technology Co. has developed the world's largest and first three-engine drone -- took off from an airfield in southwest China late last week.
Chengdu Daily said the design of the drone is a world-first. The wingspan of the aircraft stretches 60 ft., and the aircraft's main body section is 33 ft. long. It's equipped with three-piston engines, with one on each side of the wing, along with one mounted on the rear of the plane, allowing it to have a maximum takeoff weight of 3.2 tons and fly for 35 hours.
The drone has a flight ceiling of about 31,000 ft. with a top speed of about 200 mph, Chengdu Daily said, adding that the plane has been designed for airfields in plateau regions.
The pusher configuration, an engine mounted on the rear of the plane, allows it to carry more payload and take off from shorter runways.
The drone is a multifunction aircraft that will allow the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) to fly attack and surveillance missions.
Chengdu Daily said it could also be used for disaster relief, forest firefighting, geographic mapping, meteorological observation, and aerial communications relay.
Tengoen Technology expects the drone to be in series production in the near term for delivery to clients in the second half of 2021.
China has become the top country, controlling at least 70% of the world’s civilian drone market, via the Shenzhen-based drone giant SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd.
China's military drones are also gaining market share across the world, with increased sales to Middle East countries.
China's rapid ascension as a global superpower has been made part by its manufacturing hub, along with many advances in technologies, including artificial intelligence, automation, drones, and hypersonics. This has angered the Trump administration, who is threatening to ban all DJI products from federal agencies and has created fearmongering campaigns of how Chinese-made drones could be susceptible to hacks. Even the Pentagon has felt threatened by Chinese military drones because increased sales to the Middle East and other parts of the world have taken away market share from General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Boeing