|A view along the wingspan of Vietnam's new HS-6L HALE UAV|
Vietnamese television and other media reports have revealed Vietnam's largest indigenous high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to date, indicating that it will eventually perform civil and military missions over the South China Sea.
Reports from 10 and 11 December 2015 state that the new HS-6L HALE UAV is a product of Vietnam's Academy of Science and Industry and Ministry of Public Security. The twin-boom-configured HS-6L has a 22 m wingspan, a range of 4,000 km, an endurance of 35 hours, and is powered by a Rotax 914 engine.
The prototype was completed on 1 November 2015 and reports note that it will conduct flight testing over the South China Sea during the second quarter of 2016.
While its payload size has not been revealed, the HS-6L will reportedly carry optical and radar surveillance systems. In size, endurance and configuration, it is roughly in the same class as the Israeli Aerospace Industries Heron UAV.
However, it is likely that design assistance for the HS-6L came from Belarus. Vietnamese media reports noted the UAV unveiling coincided with a visit of the chairman of the Presidium of the Belarus Academy of Science: Professor Vladimir G Gusakov.
In November 2014 IHS Jane's reported that Vietnam was purchasing the 5.7-m wingspan Belarus 558 Aviation Repair Plant Grif-K UAV. This features a lightweight composite body and a twin-boom configuration similar to that of the larger HS-6L.