TOKYO, Oct. 15 -- The Japan Coast Guard has begun test flights of a US-made drone in a bid to potentially reinforce its maritime surveillance capacities, including for the detection of foreign or unidentified vessels in the country's exclusive economic zone.
According to Sputnik news agency, quoting Japanese broadcaster NHK report on Thursday, the to-be-tested unmanned aerial vehicle has the capacity to cover the outermost exclusive economic zone of Japan in one flight. Produced by US defence firm General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, the SeaGuardian drone is 12 metres (40 feet) in length and 24 metres (80 feet) in width. It is equipped with radars and high-definition cameras and is capable of an uninterrupted 24-hour flight.
The drone will undergo tests in three regions – off Japan's north-east and south coast in the Pacific Ocean and along the coasts of the Sea of Japan. The flights will be either preprogrammed or controlled remotely from a control station on the ground. The drone's functions to be tested include detecting strange vessels and life rafts, voicing to them warning signals and sending real-time images to the control centre.
Additionally, the drone will be tested on its ability to collect data pertaining to volcanic activity in the Nishinoshima island in the Pacific.
The SeaGuardian will be taking off from and landing at the Hachinohe base of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force in northern Aomori Prefecture. The drone would not be flying over residential areas, the report stressed.
The Japan Coast Guard currently includes 33 patrol aircraft and 52 helicopters. The intended introduction of surveillance drones comes amid Japan experiencing more frequent entry of foreign vessels, particularly those belonging to China and North Korea, to its exclusive economic zones and even territorial waters.
Malaysian National News Agency
No.28 Jalan BERNAMA
Off Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : +603-2693 9933 (General Line)
Email : helpdesk[at]bernama.com