China completes integrated UAV typhoon observation

BEIJING -- China has succeeded in completing the first integrated typhoon observation based on a large unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), according to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).

The UAV-based typhoon observation was conducted on Aug. 2 during Typhoon Sinlaku, the third typhoon this year, sweeping the coastal waters of south China's Hainan Province, said the CMA.


China's independently-developed Wing Loong-10 UAV carried out this mission. During the flight, the UAV dropped 30 sondes, which conducted a stereoscopic scan of the outer cloud system together with the millimeter-wave radar.

Then the ground control center received real-time data on the outer cloud system's conditions, including the temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind direction, wind speed, hydrometeor, etc.

It marked the success of China's first marine and typhoon integrated observation carried by a large UAV, also filling in a blank the country had in this field, according to the CMA.

Before this mission, the test team had conducted four observation tests in various meteorological environments, with different payloads carried by the UAV.

Professionals also used multiple detection means, such as the Fengyun meteorological satellite and an unmanned ship, to realize the stereoscopic observation.

Various numerical prediction results showed that typhoon forecasts can be improved by using observation data of aircraft dropsondes.

Qian Chuanhai, an official from the CMA, said although China has improved its typhoon forecasting capability in recent years, a lack of offshore observation data has limited the research on the generation mechanisms of typhoons, and the improvement of forecasting techniques.

The integrated marine and typhoon observation provided a reference for locating the center of Typhoon Sinlaku, and is of great significance to improve China's typhoon forecast accuracy, which is key to meteorological disaster prevention and reduction, Qian said.


According to Li Liangxu, director of the Meteorological Observation Center under the CMA, they will further improve the technical system by conducting large-scale UAV full-chain observation and providing typhoon detection services.

In 2018 the CMA initiated the project of the large UAV-based marine and typhoon integrated observation by using the Wing Loong-10 UAV, which was developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).

To meet requirements for the typhoon observation, the UAV developing team made adaptive improvements and conducted many tests, according to Zhang Zhijian, deputy designer of the Wing Loong-10 project of the AVIC Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group Co., Ltd.

The Wing Loong-10 is a member of the China-developed Wing Loong UAV family with independent intellectual property rights.

In June, the AVIC announced that the Wing Loong-1, the other member of the Wing Loong family, had successfully passed a series of tests in an airfield in northwest China.

The successful tests showed that the Wing Loong-1 universal platform is capable of providing space-air-ground emergency communication support amid communication interruptions under emergency conditions.

The design and development of this large UAV platform reflects China's pledge to boost the construction of new infrastructure for high-end aviation technologies, according to the AVIC.

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