AUVSI: A Chinese UAV in Washington

Hubei Ewatt's SVU-200 UAV, featured in the US for the first time at AUVSI

As the use of unmanned systems have expanded around the globe, the number of international vendors appearing at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) international trade show – held this week in Washington DC – has skyrocketed.

But the 2013 edition of the show contained something you don’t expect to see on US soil –  a Chinese drone.

No, not one of the military systems that has analysts worried the US may lose its grip on the world market. And not one of the high-concept designs Intercepts featured back in November.

Instead, the Hubei Ewatt SVU-200 unmanned system is a small system designed for civilian work. 

Ewatt’s systems are used primarily on the state power grid of China, according to Dennis Fetters, VTOL director for the company. But they have applications for law enforcement and emergency response as well, something he believes would be of interest to global consumers.

“We’re looking at a world market,” Fetters said. “So it was a logical place to come to, not only show our product here in the United States, but for the first time show it to the rest of the world.” He added that he expects to be at future shows, like AUVSI.

A reader might note that “Dennis Fetters” doesn’t exactly sound like a classic Chinese name. That’s because Fetters is an American, who was brought over to China by Ewatt to help design the SVU-200. And he made sure to throw a little wrinkle into his contract.

“I specifically put in  my contract that they would obey any blocks on countries that the US boycotts, and they have agreed to do that,” Fetters said. “I don’t work against the United States. I try to work for the Untied States, by giving alternatives for less expensive UVAs. That’s why we’re here, to demonstrate our products and show them that they are available here to assist the needs of the Untied States, for law enforcement, fire departments and so on.

So, could these systems have military applications in the future?

“We haven’t sold anything to the military. Could that happen in the future? Possibly, of course,” Fetters said. “There is no law about Ewatt selling military products to China or other countries, so long as its not the block of countries the United States or China has laws not to sell to.”

Aaron Mehta

Aaron Mehta

Air Warfare Correspondent at Defense News
Aaron covers the Air Force for Defense News. In his spare time, he tweets about the Air Force for Defense News. Follow him @AaronMehta
Aaron Mehta