The Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Joint Staff Office has released footage of what it says were interceptions over neutral waters of Chinese new long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles that were flying toward its border over the East China Sea.
In a series of announcements in August, the Joint Staff of Japan’s Defense Ministry announced that its fighter jets had scrambled jets several times to intercept new types of Chinese medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles.
According to a recent Joint Staff Office news release, pilots of Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) fighters visually identified Chinese drones as the TB-001 and BZK-005, although it did not provide further details other than the observed flight paths of the air vehicles.
The TB-001, most recently nicknamed Twin-Tailed Scorpion, is a strike-capable, reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicle designed by Sichuan Tengden. It is a twin-engine, double-tail drone. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 2.8 tons, a range of more than 3,700 miles, and provisions to carry two 220-pound bombs or missiles.
This aircraft is characterized by a dual tail fuselage design. This design extends two-tail support sections backward on the wing, each connecting a vertical tail, and the tops of the two vertical tails are combined in the form of a flat tail.
As to the second drone, BZK-005 is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) drone designed by Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics and Harbin Aircraft Industry (Group) Co., Ltd.
The multirole drone can climb to an altitude of 8,000 meters for a maximum endurance of 40 hours – altitudes and ranges similar to those of the U.S. MQ-1 Predator.
According to open sources, the BZK-005’s primary mission appears to be ISR. The BZK-005 probably has electro-optical, infrared, synthetic aperture radar, and signals intelligence sensors and is equipped with satellite communications systems, allowing for real-time data transmission capability.