Get to know the most advanced UAV in Southeast Asia. Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Philippines

Get to know the most advanced UAV in Southeast Asia. Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Philippines

As part of continuous modernization efforts, regional military forces continue to develop and field unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with a focus on applications such as border/maritime patrol and surveillance, where long-range and loiter performance are desired.

While tactical and medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE)-class UAVs have traditionally been used for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), there is growing interest in developing more capable systems that can carry out higher-end missions like air-to-air combat, electronic warfare, and long-range strike.

Indeed, according to Teal Group's 2020/2021 analysis, global military UAV research spending might reach $64.5 billion over the next decade as a result of new technology.

The next generation of systems is also being created at a time when the UAV market is quickly expanding due to liberalized US export rules, affordable and accessible Chinese exports, and growing demand for armed UAVs, according to the business.


The Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) currently uses leased UAVs, including the Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle and the Alliance Unmanned Developmental Research Aircraft (ALUDRA) Mk1 tactical UAV developed in-house. 

As it explores cost-effective means to monitor developments in the South China Sea, the Straits of Malacca, and the Sulu Sea near Sabah, the country is planning to expand the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), particularly by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN).

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)

Fielded Capabilities:

Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle: Under the US Maritime Security Initiative (MSI) program, the RMN will eventually operate 12 ScanEagle UAVs. Squadron 601 was established in April 2021 to operate the new systems. Six air vehicles have already been delivered, with the rest due by the end of 2021.

Unmanned Systems Technology (UST) ALUDRA Mk1: The ALUDRA Mk1 builds on earlier work on the SR-1 and SR-2 UAVs from the early 2000s. Since 2006, at least 15 systems are known to have been run under lease, with UST serving as the primary contractor.

Thales España Fulmar: In 2016, the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) purchased six Fulmar unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for its latest New Generation Patrol Craft (NGPC). A high-resolution video camera with automatic target tracking capabilities will be included in the MMEA-specific model.

Under development:

Unmanned Systems Technology (UST) ALUDRA Mk2: The ALUDRA Mk2 was intended for acquisition by the MAF, however this demand appears to have passed, as the armed forces continue to use the Mk1.


The Myanmar armed forces (Tatmadaw) are thought to be using a variety of Chinese, Israeli, and Russian-made unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), with several examples being highlighted in the February 2021 coup against the civilian government as well as ongoing military action against rebel groups along the country's borders.

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)

Fielded Capabilities:

Cai Hong/Rainbow (CH)-3: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation's (CASC) CH-3 UAV, built by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) affiliate. Myanmar is thought to have purchased between 10 and 12 CH-3 UAVs. In late March, an example was sighted overflying Mandalay city to monitor protest action.

Elbit Sytems Skylark I-LEX: Following an official visit to Israel in 2015, it is reported that Israel provided Myanmar with several hand-launched I-LEX UAVs. However, because to human rights concerns, Israel is said to have stopped providing UAVs and related support since 2018.

Spetsialny Tekhnologicheski Tsentr (STT) Orlan-10: According to reports, Russia would supply Myanmar with an undefined number of Orlan-10E reconnaissance UAVs as part of a larger contract that also includes Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missiles and radar systems. In March, an unidentified UAV with a similar profile was also sighted monitoring citizens.


For long years, Indonesia has said that it needs unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to bolster up defenses across its vast territorial waters, which contain roughly 17,000 islands.

Lack of industrial and technical capabilities, as well as financial constraints, have hampered efforts to buy and develop UAV platforms for the Indonesian armed forces (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI).

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)

Fielded Capabilities:

Aeronautics Defense Systems Aerostar: The TNI-AU uses an Israeli-made tactical UAV with a CommTact datalink and a stabilized, gimbal-mounted day/night electro-optic sensor. The service's Aviation Squadron 51 is based near Pontianak in West Kalimantan and operates this type.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation Cai Hong-4 (CH-4): The Indonesian Air Force has received at least four CH-4 armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTEC), which are fitted with satellite communications systems that allow them to fly up to 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles). 

Indonesia is said to have inked a contract for six CH-4 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well as technology transfer.

PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI)/Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) Wulung: The Wulung UAV program, which began in 2004, was designed to deliver an indigenously manufactured UAV capable of performing a wide range of civilian operations across the country's vast archipelago, from illicit fishing and logging surveillance to cloud-seeding missions and firefighting support.

Under Development: 

PTDI Elang Hitam (Black Eagle): In December 2019, PTDI announced that it is leading the development of an indigenous armed MALE UAV named the Black Eagle, with a 52-foot (16-meter) wingspan and a 2,866-pound MTOW (1,300kg). The air vehicle, according to PTDI, will be able to fly for up to 30 hours and carry up to 661 pounds (300 kilograms) of mission equipment and/or weaponry.


In recent years, the Philippine Armed Forces (AFP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) have made major efforts to improve AFP capability. The AFP used commercial drones for tactical ISR support at first, but has recently deployed Israeli and American military equipment.

Keterangan Gambar (© Pemilik Gambar)

Fielded Capabilities:

AeroVironment RQ-11B Raven: The Philippine Army has received the RQ-11B Raven system, which consists of three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as part of a terrorist support program funded by the United States.

Boeing-Insitu ScanEagle: In March 2018, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) acquired several ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the United States, which were handed over in a ceremony at Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. The 300 Air Intelligence and Security Wing (AISW) at the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan is in charge of these.

Skylark 3 from Elbit Systems: The Skylark 3 is a pneumatically propelled tactical ISR platform. A $153 million package announced in October 2019 included the purchase of an undefined number of these flying vehicles.

Elbit Sytems Skylark I-LEX: The hand-launched Elbit Systems Skylark I-LEX is a stealthy, battalion-level ISR UAV acquired as part of a $153 million package disclosed in October 2019. The kind is meant for tactical surveillance and is almost inaudible at elevations of 328ft (100m) or above, according to the business.

Elbit Sytems Thor quadrotor UAV: Elbit Systems is a software company based in Israel. The Thor quadrotor UAV is a VTOL quadrotor UAV built for military and homeland security operations. The Philippines received 1,000 Thor unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as part of a $153 million deal announced in October 2019.


Source: Asian Military Review 

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