TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Taiwan military said Friday (Aug. 7) the development of its domestically made "Teng Yun" (Cloud Rider, 騰雲) drone is right on schedule, following news the country is close to finalizing a purchase of four General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers from the U.S.
Resembling the American MQ-1 Predator, a prototype of the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) drone was first exhibited in 2015. An improved model has been in development by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) since then.
It is compatible with the U.S. AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, which have a range of 0.5-8 km, according to SET News.
A Taiwanese military official, who briefed reporters on the condition of anonymity, said the development plan has been successful and will continue to move forward as scheduled. However, Taiwan's Air Force will not purchase the unmanned aerial vehicle unless its systems measure up to national defense criteria, the official said.
According to the official, some components of Teng Yun are imported, and the military is hoping to shake off its dependence on foreign countries in the future. Meanwhile, the government is optimistic about combining its indigenous surveillance aircraft with U.S. purchases to further strengthen its combat powers, reported Liberty Times.
On Thursday, Reuters reported that Taiwan is negotiating with the U.S. to purchase at least four MQ-9 drones, which can fly for over 40 hours and have a range of 6,000 nautical miles (11,100 km). It is unknown if the drones will be equipped with armament, but the deal can be approved by Congress as soon as next month.
Teng Yun on display at 2019 Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition. (CNA photo)