South Korea Unveils Fast Tiltrotor Drone Prototype

One body, many rolls

TR-60 In Flight

TR-60 In Flight

Screenshot by author, from YouTube

As broadcast by the Republic of Korea’s Arirang television network last night, a brand-new Korean tiltrotor drone took to the skies for the first time. The TR-60 can fly for up to 6 hours at as fast as 310 mph. It is planned that the drone, developed at a cost of $91 million, will enter mass production in 2024.

Watch the Arirang segment on it below:

Somewhat confusingly, there's more than one drone shown in the video, As that narrator explains the features of the TR-60 tiltrotor, a whole host of other unmanned aerial vehicles fly across the screen. In fact, a different drone is shown for each new capability announced, either suggesting a family of vehicles with diverse specializations or one super-capable tiltrotor. The thrust of the piece is about South Korea’s drone industry as a whole, which Joo Jin, director of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute that developed the TR-60, hopes will be the third or fourth best in the world by the 2020s.

Among the roles listed for the TR-60 include surveillance, reconnaissance, transportation, search and rescue, and communication relay. Those are fairly standard drone tasks now, none of which especially require a tiltrotor body. Still, the combination of vertical takeoff and landing with faster forward flight is enough to make a new plane promising. Perhaps the flexibility of the TR-60 means it can be use from smaller spaces, offering better scouting abilities than previously available.