Developed by Taiwan's own National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), the "Albatross" (also the "Chung Xiang II") is a wholly-indigenous, wholly-modern Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operated by the Republic of China Navy (RCN). The design is rather conventionally arranged with a fixed (straight) mainplane featuring clipped tips, a fixed, wheeled tricycle undercarriage, and twin-boom tail configuration. Over thirty units are thought to have been produced for the military by local industry as the island nation continues to modernized under the invasion-minded shadow of neighboring China.
The aircraft appeared in its prototype form back in August of 2005 and service entry of the Albatross followed in 2007 (as well as its public unveiling via military parade). The "Albatross II" has since become an upgraded offering of the same aircraft though with enhanced operating specifications (including a 16-hour loitering window) and an inherent attack functionality (this feature lacking in the original Albatross). The II-model also fits a synthetic aperture radar unit.
The Albatross is designed for general over-battlefield sorties. As such, its payload is restricted to cameras and sensor equipment useful in the Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR) role in the maritime setting. It can also be used in Search and Rescue (SAR), artillery-spotting, humanitarian assistance, border patrol, and fisheries protection actions as needed where its "eye-in-the-sky" capability aids ground commanders in decision-making. The system can operate in both day and night environments which places it on par with contemporaries.
Dimensions of the aircraft include a running length of 17.4 feet and wingspan of 28.2 feet. Mainplanes are shoulder-mounted near midships and each has a boom assembly reaching aft to vertical tailplanes. The tailplanes are joined by a shared horizontal plane. Gross weight reaches 700lb. Operational range is out to 110 miles with a 12-hour endurance window wile capable of reaching altitudes of 13,000 feet.
As with other UASs of this class, the product carries an Electro-Optical (EO) set in a traversing blister held under the fuselage. It is powered by a conventional engine unit is housed in the aft-section of the body, driving a two-bladed propeller assembly in a "pusher" arrangement.
Delivered to Taiwan Army forces in 2014, the system was passed on to the Navy service in 2017 to continue their flying and testing careers. Its service record has not been without issue - three units have been lost to crashes since their inception.
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(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓Special-Mission: Airborne Early Warning (AEW)
Specially-equipped platform providing over-battlefield Command and Control (C2) capability for allied aerial elements.
✓Special-Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy underwater elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and weapons.
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy surface elements through visual acquisition, radar support, and onboard weaponry.
✓Special-Mission: Electronic Warfare (EW)
Equipped to actively deny adversaries the ElectroMagnetic (EM) spectrum and protect said spectrum for allied forces.
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
Aircraft inherently designed (or later developed) with an unmanned capability to cover a variety of over-battlefield roles.
Houses, or can house (through specialized variants), radar equipment for searching, tracking, and engagement of enemy elements.
Design incorporates rear-facing pusher-prop arrangement, a contrast to the more conventional puller-prop layout.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
Design features ability to fly sans pilot, actions controlled onboard through programming and / or ground-based operator.
Payload supports photographic equipment providing still and / or real-time image / video results.
17.4 ft (5.30 m)
28.2 ft (8.60 m)
661 lb (300 kg)
694 lb (315 kg)
+33 lb (+15 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the NCSIST Albatross I production variant)
monoplane / mid-mounted / straight
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted along the midway point of the sides of the fuselage.
The planform involves use of basic, straight mainplane members.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the NCSIST Albatross I production variant)
1 x Conventional engine fitted to rear of fuselage driving two-bladed propeller unit in pusher arrangement.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the NCSIST Albatross I production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
Albatross I: None. Payload restricted to sensor and camera equipment for ISR role.
Albatross II: Optionally-armed variant with provision for "Sky Sword" Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) and 2.75" aerial rockets.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Albatross - Base Series Name.
Albatross I - Original unarmed form of 2007.
Albatross II - Enhanced attack model with improved range and general capabilities as well as radar.
"Chung Xiang II" - Local, alternative series name.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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Image from official NCSIST marketing materials; Public Release.
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