Home > Electrical/Electronics > China Is Selling Unmanned Stealth Fighter Jets ‘Fitted With AK-47 RIFLES’ To The World In A Military Drone Race With The United States

China Is Selling Unmanned Stealth Fighter Jets ‘Fitted With AK-47 RIFLES’ To The World In A Military Drone Race With The United States

China is rolling out stealth drones and pilot-less aircraft fitted with deadly weapons, such as AK-47 rifles, onto world markets.

Combat drones were among the jet fighters, missiles and other military hardware shown off this week at Airshow China, the country’s biggest aerospace industry exhibition.

China’s automated warplanes are already flying in the Middle East, and the newly unveiled unmanned jets signal Beijing’s determination in catching up and eventually rivaling with the United States in the global military drone market.

One of the most eye-catching drones displayed at the exhibition in Zhuhai was CH-7, or Rainbow-7, China’s newest stealth combat drone.

The delta-winged stealth drone received much attention, highlighting the superpower’s growing production of sophisticated unmanned aerial vehicles and its effort in seeking to compete with the massive military fleet in America.

CH-7 – a charcoal-grey UAV unveiled at the air show – is the length of a tennis court with a 22-metre (72-feet) wingspan. It can fly at more than 800 kilometres (500 miles) per hour and at an altitude of 13,000 metres (42,650 feet).

‘We are convinced that with this product clients will quickly contact us,’ said Shi Wen, chief engineer of the Caihong (Rainbow) series drones at state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC).

CH-7’s maiden flight is slated for late next year.

CASC has clients in around 10 countries, Shi told AFP, while declining to name them.

‘Some things remain sensitive,’ he said.

Beijing claims that the drone was domestically developed with its own know-how, but observers argue that it appears to be a clone of American military drones, especially the X-47B from the U.S. Navy.

Measuring 10 metres (33 feet) long and boasting a top speed of 0.75 Mach (571 miles per hour), the CH-7 has a similar size and speed to Northrop Grumman’s X-47B.

China has exported its armed UAVs to countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, according to experts.

At the Zhuhai air show, Chinese drone makers are rubbing their hands at the business opportunities.

‘Security is a real problem in the Middle East. There’s a real need for military drones over there,’ said Wu Xiaozhen, overseas project director at a company named Ziyan.

At the company’s stand, Wu handed out a brochure showing its star product: the Blowfish A2, a 62-centimetre (24-inch) tall helicopter drone with Kevlar armour.

‘We can add an AK-47 or a machine gun. Different weapons can be installed, whatever the customer wants,’ she told AFP.

Abu Dhabi is already a customer while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are in discussions with the company to acquire the drone.

‘We are targeting Western markets, too. Our product is of great quality,’ she said. ‘We don’t fear competition from the Europeans and the Americans.’

China has exported its armed UAVs to countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, according to experts.

At the Zhuhai air show, Chinese drone makers are rubbing their hands at the business opportunities.

‘Security is a real problem in the Middle East. There’s a real need for military drones over there,’ said Wu Xiaozhen, overseas project director at a company named Ziyan.

At the company’s stand, Wu handed out a brochure showing its star product: the Blowfish A2, a 62-centimetre (24-inch) tall helicopter drone with Kevlar armour.

‘We can add an AK-47 or a machine gun. Different weapons can be installed, whatever the customer wants,’ she told AFP.

Abu Dhabi is already a customer while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are in discussions with the company to acquire the drone.

‘We are targeting Western markets, too. Our product is of great quality,’ she said. ‘We don’t fear competition from the Europeans and the Americans.’

Beijing has fewer qualms than the United States when it comes to selling its military UAVs to other nations.

The Iraqi army has used CASC’s CH-4 drone to conduct at least 260 strikes against the Islamic State group, Chinese media reported earlier this year.

In Yemen, where a civil war has sparked what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the United Arab Emirates military has reportedly targeted a Shiite rebel chief with a Chinese-made drone.

‘The Chinese have produced an enormous range of drones, and this seems to be an area that they expect to make great progress,’ said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.

‘The export and deployment of them should enable them to improve on design as they get tested in a real combat environment,’ Tsang said.

The Iraqi army has used China's CH-4 drone (pictured) to conduct at least 260 strikes
The Iraqi army has used China’s CH-4 drone (pictured) to conduct at least 260 strikes

The United States has plenty of lethal drones, but it has had restrictions on exporting them out of concern that the technology could be copied or used against its own troops.

Some of those restrictions were lifted in April for U.S. allies, with President Donald Trump’s administration citing competition from Chinese ‘knockoffs’, but even a solid ally such as Jordan has not been able to buy U.S. drones.

The U.S. rules gave Beijing the opportunity to fill the void and sell its drones to other countries, but China’s ‘competitive’ prices also helped, said James Char, an expert on the Chinese military at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

Beijing is currently promoting its serial military drones named Caihong, or Rainbow. The series of planes include the newest CH-7 as well as mass-produced CH-5, branded as China’s ‘deadliest drone bomber’.

China's drones are now flying in the Middle East, as Beijing is more willing than the United States to sell its military UAVs to other nations. Combat drones were among the jet fighters, missiles and other military hardware shown off this week at Airshow China (pictured)
China’s drones are now flying in the Middle East, as Beijing is more willing than the United States to sell its military UAVs to other nations. Combat drones were among the jet fighters, missiles and other military hardware shown off this week at Airshow China (pictured)

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