Chinese drone manufacturing firm Tengoen, which has already made significant inroads in the military market, is now building an eight-engine drone with a wingspan of more than 137 feet to carry a 20 tonnes payload up to 7,500 kilometers (4,660 miles).
Popular Science magazine, which described the drone as “akin to a medium-sized manned cargo plane,” said the carbon-fiber, double-bodied drone carries the payload module between the two
fuselages. “It is being built at Tengoen’s facility in Chengdu, and it’s supposedly taking flight in 2020.”
Plans to customize their unmanned aerial vehicle
While the military market is lucrative, Tengoen also plans to go after the commercial and civilian market by redesigning their military drones to carry more benign cargo. The company says that the drone can also be customised for missions like search and rescue, space launch, fire fighting, emergency relief, aerial refueling and intelligence gathering.
Manufacturing an enhanced ‘Scorpion’ drone
Tengoen Technology, which was formed in January 2016 and currently has an independent research and development facility and two assembly facilities in its Sichuan complex in Chengdu province, has also partnered with Chinese delivery company SF Express to build an enhanced version of the TB-001 Scorpion, Tengoen's flagship vehicle, for cargo delivery.
The original version, a twin-engine, double-tail drone with a maximum takeoff weight of 2.8 tonnes, has been increased to a vehicle with a MTOW of 3.3 tonnes and a 1.2-tonne payload.
In December 2017, the modified TB-011 showed off its capability by para-dropping supplies to a Huawei repair crew fixing a cell tower in the mountainous Yunnan Province.
According to one estimate, China’s military UAV market will be worth 24 billion yuan (US$3.66 billion) between 2016 and 2025, with further export potential of 5.4 billion yuan (US$850 million).
Nol van Fenema