China uses UAVs, rockets to assist fight against drought in Southwest China
Published: Aug 26, 2022 01:36 AM
The dried-up riverbed of the Jialing River is exposed due to drought in Chongqing, Aug. 17, 2022. (Photo: China News Service/He Penglei)

The dried-up riverbed of the Jialing River is exposed due to drought in Chongqing, Aug. 17, 2022. (Photo: China News Service/He Penglei)

As several regions in Southwest China including Sichuan Province and Chongqing municipality have been facing the worst heatwave in decades, China has moved to use high-tech equipment like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or even rockets to help fight the extreme weather.

On Thursday, a Wing Loong-2H UAV took off from an airport in Sichuan Province and carried out weather modification operations. During the nearly 4-hour flight, the drone ignited 20 silver iodide flame bars to create "artificial rain" for the drought-hit region, according to information provided by the Aviation Industry Corp of China.

This is not the first time home-produced UAV’s have carried out civilian missions like disaster relief, although it is widely known as an armed reconnaissance drone for military purposes. The drone also helped to provide network services for emergency rescue work in a hospital in flood-hit Zhengzhou last year. 

The mission in Sichuan again showed multiple advantages of the Wing Loong-2H as a disaster-assistance drone, such as having low operation costs, having a wide operating range and having good safety performance. It also provides genuine data and experience for the global meteorology industry.

Besides UAVs, rockets were also applied to help combat the hot weather.

Shaanxi Zhongtian Rocket Technology Co under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp dispatched special climate modification rockets to Sichuan, Chongqing and Guizhou Province to provide technical support and equipment.

The Global Times learned from a staff member of the company that Shaanxi Zhongtian has dispatched 1,467 climate change rockets of different configurations to Sichuan since May, as well as 240 aircraft flame strips and other equipment to help the region fight extreme weather. Since July, the company also provided Guizhou with thousands of weather modification rockets as well as other devices. 

Recently, the company's weather modification rockets have successfully provided water for regions like Sichuan's Mianyang city. This eased the local drought and reduced the risk of forest fires.

Sichuan and Chongqing have been hit with abnormal heatwaves recently, putting pressure on local power supplies. Officials have moved to tackle the situation with multiple measures, including by ordering industrial companies to suspend production in order to guarantee power supply for residents.