The Nigerian Navy has taken delivery of at least four AR-500 carrier-based drones from China’s Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), Lionel Ekene reports in Military Africa. The AVIC AR-500B and AR-500C UAVs first flew in November 2020 at the Poyang test flight base.
On December 3, 2020, Liu Xuanzun published in Global Times that China’s first domestically developed vessel-borne lightweight helicopter drone had recently made its maiden flight. The UAV is designed to conduct maritime monitoring and identification tasks, and is expected to be used on board smaller vessels including corvettes and coast guard ships for missions like patrol and search and rescue, analysts predicted. The helicopter drone can serve as far-reaching eyes for warships, and it can possibly also provide communication relay and guidance functions. It can also be deployed to guard a coastline.
The AR-500B has a maximum takeoff weight of 500 kg, a mission payload of 70 kg, a maximum endurance of 4 hours, an operational radius of 100 km and a ceiling of 4,000 m. It can fly at 140 km/h and conduct missions like monitoring a vast maritime surface area and identifying targets, according to its developer. The AR-500B opted to use a heavy oil engine and adopted special designs in fuel, structure, electronics and avionics systems to deal with challenges including limited hangar space on ships, extreme working conditions, high risks in takeoff and landing and complicated electromagnetic environments, AVIC said
Developed by state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the AR-500B vessel-borne unmanned helicopter successfully made its maiden flight at a test facility in Poyang county, East China’s Jiangxi Province on November 27, 2020, according to a statement released by AVIC China Helicopter Research and Development Institute.