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Thailand seeks new tactical-grade drones based on Chinese designs

The Defense Technology Institute of Thailand (DTI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Royal Thai Army to develop a medium-range tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the Army Aviation Center that serves the service.

The new drone called D-Eyes 04 is expected to replace the Army Searcher Mk II drone manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which has been in operation since the early 2000s.

According to its announcement on June 29, DTI will cooperate with the military to develop and test drone prototypes, and after completion, will outsource production to private manufacturers.

The proposed D-Eyes 04 design will be based on the CY-9 platform of the Chinese company Beihang UAS, which has a 7-meter-long double-armed fuselage, with the engine located at the rear of the pushrod propulsion configuration, slightly swept back-with a wingspan of approximately 14 meters. Wings and photoelectric sensor turret mounted on the chin. The battery life is said to be as long as 20 hours, but this depends on whether the aircraft carries the full payload capacity of 150 kg.

AMR is the first to report that Beihang signed an agreement with DTI in November 2018 to cooperate in the fields of UAV R&D, production, and flight training. DTI Board Chairman Maneerin General Manager, DTI General Manager Preecha Pradabmook, Beihang UAS General Manager Fu Junhui, and Beihang UAS Deputy General Manager Xiao Jiangyang attended the signing ceremony on behalf of DTI.

The D-Eyes 04 UAV is expected to be used by the Army Artillery Corps as an aerial battlefield surveillance and target asset, which is currently played by the Searcher Mk II platform.

DTI previously delivered the D-Eyes 02 mini drone to the Royal Thai Marine Corps for testing in December 2020. The institute also signed a separate memorandum of understanding with the military in the same month for anti-UAV research and development. The prototype system was tested in May 2021.

Xiao Wu

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