Taiwanese media reported recently that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Ground Force had introduced its latest generation of combat UAV KVD002, causing a stir within military and policy circles on the island.
A story run by the China Times newspaper dated September 23 quoted military experts, saying the drone were likely to be deployed around the Taiwan Strait as early as 2022 and joined drills around the island of 23 million people.
China has long insisted that Taiwan is an integral part of its territory and vowed to use force should the renegade province declare independence.
KVD002 made its first public appearance at the China Helicopter Exposition 2023 in northern China’s Tianjin.
At the expo, the combat drone could be seen carrying two AR-1 air-to-surface missiles under its wings as well as reconnaissance equipment under the main body.
Modelled after Caihong-4
According to china.org.cn, a state-run English-language news portal, the PLA Ground Force did not disclose the KVD002’s developer.
Observers, however, explained that given the drone’s appearance, it appears to be modelled after Caihong-4, or CH-4, one of the country’s most advanced unmanned combat aircraft.
Public information shows that the new KVD002 can remain airborne for 50 hours, up from 30 hours for the CH-4 model.
Besides, it has a maximum speed of 230 kph but usually cruises at 150 to 180 kph.
Another improvement of KVD002 compared to its predecessor is that requires less taxiing for takeoff, making the drone better suited to takeoff and landing in a plateau.
Pictures published by global media about KVD002 have surfaced in Taiwanese media and became a sensation.
Taiwanese military pundits believe KVD002 is a new, reconfigured model of CH-4, has a mid-to-long range and combines reconnaissance and strike capabilities.
Its primary usage is for extended and broader reconnaissance missions in combat zones, while also surveying key areas and targets, China Times reported.
The story added KVD002 can act in coordination with ground forces, to launch precision-guided strikes against air defense system, large-scale military structure, enemy command center and armored vehicle.
A highlight of KVD002 is that it can collaborate with military choppers to provide reconnaissance and escort services.
Specifically, the combat drone is able to pinpoint dangerous targets like artillery fire, so as to allow helicopters to mark and destroy them, China Times said.
The story ended with a question fueling conjecture about whether the CH-4 Taiwanese military sighted previously was actually a KVD002.