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AIRCRAFT DRONES

Oct 06, 2020 10:20 IST

US Air Force (USAF) is converting obsolete F-16 Fighting Falcons into drones (QF-16) to be used for target practice to test new weapons including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. USAF was earlier using obsolete F-4 Phantoms converted into drones (QF-4). Boeing will deliver 97 x QF-16s to the USAF, each costing about $1.32 million. The ‘Chinese Drone Market Report 2019-2024’ predicts global drone market to grow over $43 billion in 2024. China, currently the second largest drone market in the world, is also home to world’s biggest drone manufacturer, DJI. China’s SF Express company converted the Soviet AN-2 aircraft to a drone. One of them was upgraded to Feihong-98 (FH-98), a large commercial drone that is a piston-driven autonomous biplane and took its first successful public flight in 2018. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 5.25 tonnes, maximum capacity 1.5 tonnes & 15 cubic meters, flight height 4,500 meters, cruising speed 180 kilometers per hour, maximum range 1,200 kilometers, & a takeoff & landing distance of 150-meters. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) recently commenced supplying the Army with ‘Bharat’ drones for surveillance for troops deployed in the India-China standoff in Eastern Ladakh.