A Chinese stealth drone

China developing stealth drones to evade anti-aircraft missiles

Image credit: Reuters

Chinsa’ largest missile maker is developing military drones with stealth abilities that can evade anti-aircraft weapons, the official China Daily newspaper has reported, in another advance for the country’s ambitious military modernisation programme.

“Drones have become an indispensable weapon in modern warfare because they can play an important role in high-resolution reconnaissance, long-distance precision strikes, anti-submarine operations and aerial combat,” Wei Yiyin, deputy general manager of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, told the English-language newspaper.

Insisting it has no hostile intent, China is investing billions of dollars to update ageing equipment and develop new weapons, including stealth fighters and aircraft carriers.

Its heavy defence spending, however, has unnerved a region already on guard over Beijing’s more assertive approach to disputes in the South and East China Seas and over self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as a wayward province.

Wei told the newspaper his company was also developing near-space and long-range endurance drones.

The paper described China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp as the country’s sole producer of cruise missiles, and said the drones also resembled cruise missiles.

China has stepped up research into military drones, hoping to take market share from the United States and Israel with its cheaper technology and willingness to sell to countries that Western states are reluctant to deal with.

Meanwhile, the UK’s own stealth drone project continues, following its 2014 reveal when the Ministry of Defence confirmed that its first successful test flights had been completed in August 2013.

The Taranis unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), named after the Celtic god of thunder, was first unveiled in July 2010, but remained classified until early 2014 when the MoD and BAE Systems made the test flight announcement, saying the drone had surpassed all expectations.

The skies of the world look set to become increasingly full of weaponised drones, for one purpose or another. E&T exclusively reported last week that anti-drone unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are to be taken for counter-terrorist test flights on a UK military base. It is understood they will be flown in exercises designed to simulate a real-life pursuit of a terrorist drone, as the UK’s police and military are believed to be concerned about the prospect of terrorists modifying small, off-the-shelf drones to launch attacks on British soil.

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