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09 Nov 17. Thai military’s UAV research bears fruit. The Royal Thai Navy (RTN) is working on a platform called the Fixed-wing UAV with VTOL-Enabling Capability (FUVEC), displaying one of four prototypes at the Defense & Security 2017 expo in Bangkok. The hybrid FUVEC is designed for shipboard operations, hence the desire for a VTOL ability that requires a 5m² deck space to land. Indeed, it will be the first fixed-wing/multi-rotor UAV for the RTN. Its wingspan measures 4.5m. The FUVEC weighs 38kg, of which 8kg can be a payload. The Naval Research & Development Office specified a speed of 100km/h, four-hour endurance and ceiling of 2km. It was successfully tested aboard a ship in July, according to navy personnel. However, development and modifications are continuing and technicians believe it should be finished within 6-12 months. The project started approximately 1.5 years ago. The FUVEC uses mostly Thai-sourced materials apart from critical components such as the motors. It has a fixed-wing fuselage, with four horizontal rotors also affixed.
The Naval Research & Development Office also showed the Tactical Assault rifle-Enabled Multirotor (TAREM). This is essentially a multirotor UAV fitted with a weapon. Despite its name, the example shown at Defense & Security was armed with just a 9mm pistol. Designed for Thai marines fighting a counterinsurgency in southern Thailand, the TAREM was tested three years ago. It can fire at targets up to 50m away, although a spokesman admitted it is difficult to fire completely accurately while in flight. An M16 has been trialled but the weapon needs to be modified to shorten if for employment aboard TAREM. The Mini-UAV is a project that kicked off in 2014, the idea being to give Royal Thai Army (RTA) infantrymen a portable UAV that is much cheaper than what an imported equivalent would cost. The Army Military Intelligence unit of the RTA is in charge of this project.
Although design work on the 3.5kg and 1m-long aircraft with 1.7m wingspan is essentially complete, Army Military Intelligence will perform some minor improvements. Interchangeable 60x zoom daylight or 2x zoom thermal cameras can be fitted. Once complete, the Mini-UAV will have a 20km range, 1km ceiling, two-hour endurance and maximum 100km/h speed. It is hand-launched and recovered by parachute. Another design from the same RTA development unit is the fixed-wing Small UAV. This has a 20km range and three-hour endurance. Launched by catapult and landing on a runway, the 14kg aircraft can fly to a ceiling of 1,000m. The Small UAV is in production. It has a 2.1m wingspan and either a gimballed daylight camera or thermal camera can be fitted. (Source: Shephard)
08 Nov 17. Marsun charts future USV course. Marsun, a private shipbuilder in Thailand, displayed a scale model of a concept for a second-generation 10m-long USV at Defense & Security 2017 in Bangkok.
The company has already successfully partnered with the Naval Research and Development Office of the Royal Thai Navy (RTN) to develop a 6m-long USV. This orange-coloured vessel, christened ROBAST (Riverine Operation Boat Autonomous Surface Technology), was on display at the same exhibition.
ROBAST, with a displacement of 850kg, has a top speed of 20kt and range of 100km. This research project can be optionally manned as well. That first project was completed in September after commencing in 2015, and the RTN is now pondering its next step.
Athirach Khuankheangpech, a Marsun sales engineer, said that work on the next-generation USV could commence next year. The navy is interested in USVs that could be used for harbour and riverine patrols, naval base protection, research tasks and reconnaissance.
The new design would include elements such as a loudspeaker, radar, EO/IR, collision avoidance system and even a heavy machine gun.