Mainland shows off stealth drone global ambition

China | ASSOCIATED PRESS 8 Nov 2018

A Chinese state-owned company says it is developing a stealth combat drone in the latest sign of the country's growing aerospace prowess.

The CH-7 unmanned aerial vehicle also underscores China's growing competitiveness in the expanding global market for drones. China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the US.

The CH-7's chief designer Shi Wen says the aircraft can "fly long hours, scout and strike the target when necessary."

"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 said.

Shi said manufacturer Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation plans to test fly the drone next year and start mass production by 2022, adding the drone will likely be sold abroad.

A model of the aircraft is on display at this week's Zhuhai air show, a biannual event that showcases China's latest advancements in military and civilian aviation.

With a wingspan of 22 meters and a length of 10 meters, CH-7 is the size of a combat aircraft and its single engine can propel it at roughly the speed of a commercial jet airliner.

The US, Russia and France are also developing stealth drones, while Israel has long been a leader in the UAV field.

However, low prices and a willingness to transfer technology have put China in a "strong position," in the UAV market, said Phil Finnegan, director of corporate analysis at the Teal Group Corp in Fairfax, Virginia.

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