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First Chinese stealth drone 'ready' for test flight

Published time: May 11, 2013 09:11
Edited time: May 12, 2013 15:40
The "Yi Long" drone by China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) (AFP Photo)

The "Yi Long" drone by China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) (AFP Photo)

The Chinese military is making preparations for the inaugural flight test of its newly designed unmanned combat vehicle, bringing the Asian powerhouse into the stealth technology race, Chinese media report.

China’s first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), known as the Lijian ('sharp sword'), is designed jointly by the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group and Shenyang Aviation Corporation. The project was launched in 2009 and the drone's first ground test was conducted on December 13 last year.

The Lijian, which makes China the third country to possess stealth drone capabilities, is now ready for flight testing, China Aviation News reported on Friday.

The Chinese UAV is designed for use by the PLA Air Force and Navy Air Force for combat missions, China Aviation News reported. It may also be used for tracking and reconnaissance along China’s lengthy and occasionally contentious border.

Beijing’s ambitious efforts at developing its drone capabilities have not escaped the attention of Taiwan, which has quarreled with Beijing in the past over questions of sovereignty and national identity.

“Taiwan should be concerned about China’s development of large numbers of sophisticated military UAVs,” Ian Easton, a research fellow at the Project 2049 Institute, told the Taipei Times.

China’s stealth drone is third such unmanned combat vehicle in existence, after the X-47 designed by the United States, and the nEUROn, a collaborative effort of various EU companies.

The nEUROn was launched in 2005 following an order by the French Defense Procurement Agency. The program is a collaborative effort between French, Italian, Swedish, Spanish, Greek and Swiss defense companies.

The US Pentagon’s X-47 stealth drone, designed by Northrop Grumman, began as part of DARPA's J-UCAS program, and is now part of the US Navy's UCAS-D (Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration) program. The X-47 is still undergoing flight testing.

The unveiling of the prototype places the People’s Republic of China ahead of several nations in the development of stealth drone technology.

India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Sweden and Russia also have their own stealth UAV programs.

Comments (103)


Ted Bohne 22.11.2013 23:44

the UN isn't scared of China, or Russia. the US is a dud, you know, a round or ordinance that didn't go off? with their last tax payer dollars their building stealth ships, a new class of fast attack subs, another AC carrier, which by the way, didn't they used to name them after DEAD guys?


matahari 06.10.2013 07:48

The next question popping up in future - So much money for an aircraft carrier just to opeate UAVs? There must be a cheaper alternative. Soon, aircraft carriers will be downsized and called UAV carriers. Maybe existing helicopter carriers may even suffice and all aircraft carriers scrapped.


Marvin Rabanal 16.09.2013 18:00

what is happening to UN are they scared to china?Where are the super power countries like Russia,America, Great Britain or the european countries, no dought China is now controlling the world beacuse it is the number 1 economy in the world today,

View all comments (103)
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