Beijing shows off new stealth drone
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.