China: maiden flight of the first large, three-engine drone in the world

Independently developed by China, the world's first large, three-engine utility drone recently made its first flight, with experts saying that the drone is very reliable and versatile thanks to the extra engine, and can be used in transport and attack missions. Liu Xuanzun reports on Global Times.

China maiden flight of the first large three engine drone in the world
Developed by Chengdu-based Tengden Technology Co, the world's first large, three-engined drone makes its first flight in Southwest China on January 16. (Picture source: CNS)

Developed by Chengdu-based Tengden Technology Co, the drone took off and landed on Thursday 16 January morning at an airfield in Southwest China, marking its successful maiden flight, Chengdu Daily reported on Friday, Jan.17.

The drone is a three-engine variant of Tengden's twin-engine TB Twin-tailed Scorpion, as this design is a world-first for drones, Chengdu Daily said without introducing the designation of the new variant. It has a 20-meter wingspan and is 11 meter-long. It is equipped with three piston engines: one under each wing and one on its tail. The maximum takeoff weight is 3.2 tons. It has an endurance of 35 hours. The flight ceiling is 9,500 meters and a maximum climb rate of 10 m/sec. The top speed is more than 300 km/h. Because the drone uses piston engines, which are low cost but have a long lifespan, its manufacturer claims the drone is very cost-efficient.

The extra engine makes this new drone more powerful, capable of carrying a higher payload and taking off at shorter ranges, a military expert who asked not to be named told the Global Times. This enables the drone to be used for a wider range of purposes, such as logistics and transport, in addition to traditional drone purposes including patrol, reconnaissance and attack. The drone can also be used in areas such as disaster relief, forest firefighting, geographic mapping, meteorological observation and aerial communications relay, reported. The drone will be "put on the market in all fronts" in 2021, reported.