A new Chinese state-owned company is making the drone news lately, this time for developing a stealth combat drone as the latest sign in the country’s growing infrastructure for aerospace.
Named the CH-7, this unmanned aerial vehicle also showcases how competitive China is in expanding to the global market for drones. After winning sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones at lower prices (and without the political conditions attached by the US), the company said that this drone can “fly long hours, scout and strike targets when necessary.”
As the main designer behind the drone Shi Wen told The Associated Press, “Very soon, I believe, in the next one to two years, (we) can see the CH-7 flying in the blue skies, gradually being a practical and usable product in the future.”
Shi also pointed to the fact that the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation plans to test-fly the drone next year and begin its mass production by 2022, stating that the drone will likely be sold abroad but still being clueless when it comes to its potential clients.
And while some observers said that this Chinese drone is a sort of a copy of the famous Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel which was captured by Iran in 2011 and then reverse-engineered by Tehran, it has its unique sides and new features that it originally brings to the table.
Debuting at The Zhuhai Air Show
The Zhuhai air show is the first event where a model of this aircraft was presented. The drone has a wide span of 22 meters and a length of 10 meters, making the size of a combat aircraft and being able to propel at roughly the speed of a commercial jet airliner.
It seems like stealth drones are the next big thing in science, after China, Russia, the US and France have all been developing them – and Israel has long been a leader in the UAV field.
China, on the other hand, can benefit from the low prices and the willingness to transfer technology – which is how the country evolved in many other fields and got a “strong position” in the UAV market as well, according to Phil Finnegan, the director of corporate analysis at the Teal Group Corp. in Fairfax, Virginia.
In the future, the team behind this drone will focus on developing UAVs with extreme endurance and high speed and stealth capability high-altitude UAVs which will be able to take-off vertically and have specific landing capabilities.
Until more images and details about this new drone emerge, it is safe to say that Chinese tech experts are putting their hands to technology in a fast way, especially when it comes to “cloning” US shapes, platforms and components – and possibly improving them (or at least try to).
Source: China Central Television (CCTV)