Bei­jing shows off new stealth drone

The Weekend Australian - - WORLD - DIDI TANG THE TIMES

China has un­veiled a full-size pro­to­type of its new stealth com­bat drone as it tries to ri­val the US and boost sales of its tech­nol­ogy in the global mar­ket.

The high-alti­tude, high-speed CH-7, or Rain­bow-7, is ca­pa­ble of long-en­durance re­con­nais­sance, ground at­tack and air com­bat. With a wing­span of 22m, a length of 10m and a max­i­mum take-off weight of 13 tonnes, the drone can fly to an alti­tude of 13,000m and has a top speed of 919km/h.

It can evade de­tec­tion by radar sys­tems, pen­e­trate en­emy de­fences and op­er­ate in tan­dem with fighter jets to strike tar­gets. The pro­to­type was dis­played this week at the China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion in the south­ern city of Zhuhai.

The air show, where the coun­try’s weapon-mak­ers are show­cas­ing some of their most ad­vanced fighters, en­gines, drones and radar sys­tems, helps to sell Chi­nese mil­i­tary hard­ware to po­ten­tial buy­ers. Mil­i­tary re­searchers and de­vel­op­ers have shown pro­to­types of the J-20, China’s most ad­vanced fighter jet, as well as a hy­per­sonic, anti-ship bal­lis­tic mis­sile sys­tem that can sink air­craft car­ri­ers. A pro­mo­tional video sug­gests its imag­i­nary tar­gets to be US car­ri­ers.

China is com­pet­i­tive in the glo- bal mar­ket for arms be­cause it of­fers low prices and is will­ing to share tech­nol­ogy. It is woo­ing coun­tries that are not al­lowed to pur­chase from the US be­cause of po­lit­i­cal re­stric­tions.

Sam Roggeveen, di­rec­tor of the in­ter­na­tional se­cu­rity pro­gram at Aus­tralia’s Lowy In­sti­tute, said that China had been of­fer­ing a “dizzy­ing” num­ber of armed drones, with the CH-7 be­ing the most ad­vanced for sale.

Ron Huisken, a re­gional se­cu­rity ex­pert at the Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity, said that the tech­nol­ogy used for the CH-7 was un­likely to be truly cut­ting edge be­cause of China’s de­sire to guard its best tech­nolo­gies.

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