Vietnam has become the latest country to acquire unmanned aerial technology. On the 5th April Vietnamese scientists successfully tested drones that had been created and developed by the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology. The tests were carried out at the Space Technology Institute in Hanoi. Three drones were tested out of the five that have been developed by the Academy; the culmination of a five year research project started in 2008. Vietnamese news organisation Tuoitrenews reported that the drones are equipped with an autopilot system, cameras and equipment for scientific research. The drones are small in comparison to their British counterparts, with the smallest weighing just four kg and the largest 170kg. The armed Reaper system, currently in use in Afghanistan, weighs 2,223 kg without any armaments attached.
Thanh Nien News, another Vietnamese news source, reported that the Space Technology Institute research team would continue to develop drones that could fly at higher altitudes and for extended periods of time. Currently the largest Vietnamese drone can fly up to 3,000 metres for six hours. The Institute also plans to mass produce the UAVs for ‘research and other purposes’.
This is not the first time Vietnam has seen the use of drones. During the Vietnam War, America flew a number of different unarmed reconnaissance drones. Whilst drones during this period were far from perfect, with over 550 being lost during the course of the war, they more than proved their value in providing surveillance. These latest drones in the sky above Vietnam represent a first step towards greater use of this technology by Vietnam and another move forward in global proliferation of unmanned air vehicles.