China’s largest missile maker is developing advanced military drones with stealth abilities that can evade radar and anti-aircraft weapons, officials said. Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) is focusing on the development of a long-endurance stealth drone and a near-space drone, Wei Yiyin, CASIC Deputy General Manager was quoted as saying by the state-run China Daily.
“As military reforms are drastically changing armed forces around the world, 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 said. Wei said within the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period, CASIC will strive to develop technologies for long-endurance stealth drones, complete the design of high-speed combat/reconnaissance drones and use these new products to tap domestic and international markets.
The company also plans to make multipurpose, stealth target aircraft used for training, he said. Unlike other Chinese drones, which resemble fixed-wing planes with landing gear, all CASIC drones resemble a cruise missile. The company is the only producer of cruise missiles in China. CASIC’s drones are launched from a vehicle and retrieved after descending by parachute, the report said.
The newest WJ-600A/D has an ultrafast cruising speed of 700 km/h, while other Chinese drones can reach only 280 km/h as their top speed. Earlier this month, China’s Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute said its latest combat drone which made its maiden flight recently is comparable to US’s MQ-9 Reaper. The missile and may turn out to be a “biggest export deal” for the country, the chief designer of unmanned aerial vehicle had said. A yellow prototype of the Wing Loong II conducted a 31-minute test flight from an unidentified airport in northwestern China on Monday, the institute said.