In response to intensive flooding that has killed 12 and damaged infrastructure in China's central Henan province, Chinese authorities did something creative: They launched specialized drones to temporarily restore cell phone signals.
Mihe, a small town in Henan, China, was severely damaged in ongoing floods that have plagued central China. According to state news agency Xinhua, 20,000 of the 30,000 local residents have been impacted, and communication with the town has been cut off since Tuesday around noon.
A screenshot circulating on social media suggests residents of Mihe received a text message from China's state telecom operator, saying communication would be restored for five hours by a specialized drone called the Chengdu Pterodactyl 2H (also known as Wing Loong II).
Aviation Industry Corporation of China, the state-owned aerospace and defense company and manufacturer of the drone, confirmed on social media platform Weibo that a Pterodactyl 2H drone was deployed to Henan on Wednesday afternoon to survey local situations and reestablish telecommunication.
According to a May article in Xinhua, the Pterodactyl 2H is a specialized unmanned aerial vehicle designed for disaster relief situations. It can deliver emergency supplies through airdrop and resume temporary communications. In situations where ground telecom stations are damaged, drones can serve as a relay point in the air.The prototype, Pterodactyl 2, is a drone for military uses which China has sold to other countries. In June, the Biden administration included AVIC in its investment ban list of "Chinese Military-Industrial Complex Companies."
Correction, July 22, 2021: China is experiencing flooding in Henan province. An earlier version of this article misspelled it as "Hunan."