Beijing: China's first unmanned helicopter drone designed to fly in plateau areas and capable of firing and conducting reconnaissance from a high altitude has made its maiden flight and could be deployed along the country's borders with India, according to reports in the official media here.
The AR500C unmanned helicopter, which has the ability to relay communication from a high altitude, could help safeguard China's southwestern borders with India in Tibet, the state-run Global Times reported.
The drone, developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), successfully made its maiden flight on Wednesday at an AVIC base in Poyang in East China's Jiangxi Province.
During the flight, it conducted several manoeuvres including hovering, horizontal and vertical moves, according to state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).
The Global Times report on Sunday said the AR500C, China's first unmanned helicopter designed to fly in plateau areas, can take off at an elevation of 5,000 metres and has a ceiling of 6,700 metres. It has an endurance of five hours, maximum speed of 170 km an hour and a maximum take-off weight of 500 kg.
The helicopter's main missions include reconnaissance and communication relay, but when equipped with additional devices, it can also run electronic disruption, target indication, fire strike, cargo delivery and nuclear radiation and chemical contamination reconnaissance, an AVIC statement said.
The maiden flight of AR500C came at a time when China-India border tensions have been flaring up, the report by the Global Times, run by China's ruling Communist Party, said.
India on Thursday rejected China's allegations that the Indian troops crossed over to the Chinese side of the frontier in Ladakh and Sikkim, asserting that New Delhi has been taking a responsible approach towards border management.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said it was the Chinese side that recently undertook activities hindering India's normal patrols in the areas.
Fang Yonghong, technology director at AVIC's helicopter branch said that the helicopter can be easily controlled via a keyboard and a screen.
Compared to a traditional fixed-wing drone, a drone helicopter does not require a large airstrip with long runways, making it more flexible to deploy, Chinese air defence expert Fu Qianshao was quoted as saying by the report.
The Chinese military already operates the Z-8G, China's first large transport helicopter with a focus on plateau operations. It can take off from 4,500 metres above sea level and has a ceiling of more than 6,000 metres and lift troops and supplies to high-altitude areas, it said.