Thailand’s Ministry of Defence is to launch a programme to design and manufacture a squadron of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for the Royal Thai Air Force.

The project will be implemented in three phases.

In the first phase small UAVs will be acquired and developed, moving on to medium and large unmanned systems in the second phase and finally the ability to produce UAVs domestically will reduce or elimintate the need for imports.

In the small UAV category, the nation plans to build aircraft capable of flying on 1.5-hour missions over a distance of 15km and up to an altitude of 1,220m at 55km/h with a payload of 5kg.

The medium version will be able to fly for 2.5 hours or 30km, up to 1,524m at a speed of 93km/h with a 10kg payload.

The larger systems will be able to endure a six-hour flight or 100km mission at an altitude of 3,048m at 111km/h, with a payload of 25kg.

According to the defence ministry, the modern and advanced UAVs will aid in reconnaissance missions, eliminate the risk of deploying piloted aircraft over conflict areas and save costs.