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A Chinese 3-engine UAV has reportedly completed successfully its first flight. The Sichuan Tengden Technology Company’s new version of the TW328/TB001 is possibly the first medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAV of its class to use three engines, and it can be used for both “transport and attack missions”.

The prototype air vehicle performed an automatic take-off from a civilian airport in southwestern China, flying a pre-programmed route that lasted 25 minutes before landing and taxiing autonomously.

The UAV was described by Chinese media as a strike-capable, reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle, according to The UAV can be used in areas such as disaster relief, forest firefighting, geographic mapping, meteorological observation, and aerial communications relay. 

The new variant took to the skies on 16 January. Unlike the regular variant ‘Twin Tailed Scorpion’ UAV, the new version has an additional third piston engine on its tail.

Chengdu Daily reported that the platform had a flight ceiling of 9,500 m, a maximum climb rate of 10 m/s, and a top speed of more than 300 km/h. The platform, which has an overall wingspan of 20 m and is 11 m long, has a maximum take-off weight of 3.2 tonnes and an endurance of 35 hours.

The aircraft will be “put into market in all fronts” in 2021.

The regular variant is a twin-tail MALE UAV powered by two piston engines of an unknown type. The platform conducted its maiden flight on 31 October 2017. It has an endurance of 35 hours and a range of about 6,000 km.