I wasn’t really planning on blogging about the Info Caravan Exhibit of the Philippine Army (PA) for their 122nd Anniversary at the Bonifacio Global City (BGC), but after going and taking pictures and videos, I thought I had enough material for an article, hence this post.
‘DJI Mavic Pro Platinum Drone’
During the event, the Army displayed some of the commercial drones that they use for their operations, and one of these drones was the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum. I think it is an excellent choice because for one, its manufacturer, Da Jiang Innovations (DJI) is the leading commercial drone manufacturer in the world today with a 74% market share as of September 2018.1
The reason why they are number one is because they make the best drones with the best performance and are yet are still easy to use. This particular model, the Mavic Pro Platinum is the quietest among DJI’s drone products, as shown in this video:
Being quiet means that the drone can be more discreet and have less chance of being detected during Surveillance and Reconnaissance operations. It also among the fastest, highest, longest ranged and with the longest endurance drones among the DJI models, with a flight time close to around half an hour per battery.
’DJI Spark Drone’
Another drone the PA showed was the DJI Spark. The Spark is not as capable as the Mavic Pro Platinum drone, it doesn’t fly as high, as fast, as far or as long. It also has less refinements like it is noisier, less options for the controls, etc.
But one advantage of the Spark is that it much smaller than the Mavic Pro drones and is much lighter, making it easier to carry around. It also much cheaper, at least two Spark drones can be bought for the price of just one Mavic Platinum drone.
Despite being cheaper and lighter though, the Spark still takes very good pictures and videos. Battery life for the unit is only around 12-16 minutes, and coupled with their shorter range and altitude compared to the Mavic Pro series, they are best for work at closer ranges.
I actually own a DJI Spark drone myself and I am quite fond of it. You can read about my blogs about the Spark here.
’Tarot X4 Drone’
The largest drone that the Army displayed during the event was the Tarot X4. The drone wasn’t labeled (as were all the other drones), and I was only able to identify the aircraft upon researching it at home. This is a custom built drone, meaning you can mix and match motors, batteries, etc. any way you like it.
Since there is no fixed configuration, then performance can vary also, depending on the mix. Payloads can range up to 10 kg2 while flight time can go as high as 50 minutes3, again depending on the combination used.
This drone has a lot of potential, and because of its larger payload it is probably the most capable among the drones shown in the event. For example, if it is coupled with a good Optical System with Zoom capability, then it can make better observational work.
The X4 was displayed with a Turnigy 9XR Transmitter as Remote Control, and its range is kinda hard to pin down as not much specifications are available about it in the internet. Some claims puts it at only several kilometers like the Mavic drones while other claims puts it as far out as 10 km.
One thing I noticed on the X4 is that its propellers are shaped like the low noise propellers on the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum drone, thus they could have the same quiet properties also, which will make them more effective since they will be harder to hear at higher altitudes.
’Small FPV(?) Drones’
The PA also showed these small Drones as among those they use in their operations, and I think they are a good for some situations like when flying at very low altitudes of only several meters off the ground, for example. They are small, fast and highly maneuverable, so they are difficult targets to hit even if they are flying just around head level.
They can be used to peek around corners, look above houses or fences, or check out a street. They can even be used indoors in houses or buildings, though how far it can go inside is limited by signal interference. These drones are usually flown with what’s called as a First Person View (FPV) Goggles, although no such goggles were on display at the exhibit.
Video quality from these drones are not so good and relatively shaky, but good enough to be flown via FPV. They are usually used for Recreational Flying or Drone Racing, hence the stress on speed and maneuverability and not so much on video quality. Estimated flight time for these types of drones are reportedly up to 8-15 minutes.4
’Type 69 RPG Weapon’
The PA also displayed the Type 69 Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) weapon that China donated last year in 2018.5 These are copies of the Russian RPG-7, but with some refinements or additions like a Folding Handle on the top-middle portion of the weapon, allowing it to be easier to lift or carry with one hand.
It also has a Folding Bipod to allow it to be easier to be shouldered for long periods while in the prone position, or to allow it to be aimed better when the weapon is shot from the same position. Lastly it has a Wire framed Shoulder Stock which again helps the weapon to be easier to carry and aim.
I noticed that the Type 69 weapon on display had Optical Sights, which is of course better than just the Folding Iron Sights found on the RPG-7 weapons used by the 33rd Infantry Makabayan Battalion a couple of months ago.6
’Aselsan A-100 NVD’
The Army not only displayed but also demoed their Aselsan A-100 Night Vision Device (NVD) during the event, allowing people to see how the unit operates at night. They had a large box with a hole in the middle where you could peer into using the device and see how it looks like when it is in operation.
According to the people who supervised the demo, a single AA battery is good enough to power the device for around 4 to 5 days. The A-100 came as a set that included a Headpiece Mount and an Infra-Red (IR) Laser Sight.
The laser from the sight can only be seen by somebody using a similar device, so if the target doesn’t have it then he or she wouldn’t even know that he is being aimed at or targeted already. The nice thing about the A-100 is that not only can it be used with a Head Piece, but it is also compact enough to be mounted on a weapon as well.
’MLX-6 Man Pack Loudspeaker’
Another interesting item on display MLX-6 Man Pack Loudspeaker which is used for Audio Information Dissemination purposes in combat areas. The MLX-6 is splash and weatherproof, and is made locally here in the Philippines.
The MLX-6 has a folding Solar Panel that allows the battery to be charged which ensures that the operator/s of the loudspeaker will not have to worry about losing power as long as there is sunlight and there is enough time to charge the battery.
‘Chinese Sniper Rifles’
Last would the Sniper Rifles that China donated to us in 2017.7 There are two types, the CS/LR-4 and the Type 85, and both types were equipped with nice looking long range Scopes. The CS/LR-4 (also known as the NSG-1) is chambered in 7.62 x 51 mm caliber, has a manual Bolt Action loading system and has a Polymer Stock.8
The Type 85 on the other hand is an unlicensed copy of the then Soviet Dragunov SVD rifle chambered in caliber 7.62 x 54 mm caliber ammunition. It has a Semi-Automatic loading system and a wooden stock which looked very nice up close.9
The Army also showed a number of other items during the event, to see the other pictures I took, you can follow this link. The event was pretty interesting, here’s hoping that the next ones will continue to be as interesting as this one.
DJI Market Share: Here’s exactly how rapidly it has grown in just a few Years,
Tarot X4 Quadcopter Build Kit,
50 minutes! Tarot X4 Quadcoptor with DJI 6010 Power Combo-Introduction and Flight time Test,
Get longer Flight Time on Drones and Quadcopters,
China donates Small Boats and RPG Launchers to Philippines,
33rd Infantry Makabayan Battalion RPG 7 Live Fire Exercises,
China’s Rifles and Ammo Donation (June 2017),
NSG-1 / CS-LR4,
79/85 Sniper Rifle,