The Republic of China at Taiwan’s National Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) is producing its Chien Hsiang truck-launching drone for the country’s military.
The drones developed by the state-owned company were first displayed at the Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition in 2017, and were subsequently awarded contracts worth NT$80 billion (US$2.57 billion) to deliver 104 drones by 2025.
Chien Hsiang is designed to locate and destroy ground, naval or airborne radar systems. It uses a truck-mounted launcher that holds twelve ready-to-launch drones.
Each drone has an engine-driven rear-mounted propeller, providing up to five hours of flight time and a maximum range of 1,000 kilometers (621 miles). This configuration is designed for difficult to detect with minimal radar cross section.
Once in the air, it can detect and track radiation signals up to 500 kilometers away. It can also watch the sky and wait for enemy radar to activate. It then targets that radar with an electro-optical/infrared seeker that uses an “intelligent target detection system” to distinguish specific targets.
The drone strikes at a speed of 600 kilometers (373 miles per hour), destroying targets by direct impact. Some versions of the launcher are understood to be usable from naval vessels as well.
On November 16, 2022, NCSIST held a media event to showcase the Chien Hsiang Anti-Radiation Drone and its associated Anti-Radiation Decoy Drone. The latter uses the same airframe, but is designed to lure opposing radars to search for missiles and drones, keeping them away from actual friendly radar systems.
In addition, NCSIST also showed Chien Hsiang the Tengyun UAV designed for long-range reconnaissance. It debuted in 2015, has a flight time of 20 hours and includes a synthetic aperture radar. Trials are currently underway and approval for use is expected in 2023.
Stephen W. Miller