Chinese company QilingUAV announced recently that they were developing a firebombing unmanned aerial vehicle. The Qiling UAV JC260 will carry a ‘retardant bomb’ device on each side of the UAV.
The drone is just over 9 feet long, and just under 6 feet high, equipped with a coaxial rotor system measuring 11 feet in diameter. The UAV comes in with an empty weight of 350 pounds, rising to a maximum takeoff weight of 573 pounds. Powered by two 34-horsepower water-cooled gasoline engines, the company states its aircraft will have 4 hours air time while flying at a maximum speed of 62 miles per hour.
The projected drop swath of these retardant bombs is quite small, however, when compared to traditional firebombing aircraft, Qiling stating that the aircraft will have a drop coverage of 50 cubic meters 91763 cubic feet) per drop, which includes all useful load on the UAV dropped at once. Qiling’s vision for the future involves multiple drones flying on fire, although no further explanation was given on how this would potentially be integrated into a current wildland firefighting plan with conventional aircraft.
Qiling touts the JC260 in a press release as “a new approach to fire fighting with the help of drones. It can actually make the complex and dangerous forest fires extinguishing safer.”