Vietnam revealed its largest indigenous high-altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) this December, IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly reports. According to local media reports, the prototype was completed at the beginning of November and will commence test flights over the South China Sea in the summer of 2016.
The prototype is a joint project of Vietnam’s Academy of Science and Industry and the Ministry of Public Security. The new UAV, designated HS-6L, will perform both civilian and military tasks, judging from the aircraft’s design features.
Vietnamese media reports that the unarmed UAV prototype sports a Rotax 914 engine and a 22-meter wingspan. It has a range of up to 4,000 kilometers as well as an endurance of up to 35 hours. It will be equipped with unspecified optical and radar surveillance systems.
IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly notes that the Vietnam may have received design assistance from Belarus, given that the unveiling of the aircraft coincided with the visit of the chairman of the Belarus Academy of Science.
In 2014, Vietnam purchased a number of Grif-K tactical drones from Belarus. The Belorussian UAV has a wingspan of 5.7 meters, a maximum take-off weight of 120 kilograms, and a payload of 25 kilograms.