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China Unveils New Killer Drones

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China Unveils New Killer Drones

Post by el on Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:36 pm

Watch out, Vladimir Putin: China’s drone fleet is getting real. And judging from how Beijing is promoting its robots to the outside world, they’re aimed straight at Russia.

That’s all from a glimpse of the biennial China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, held earlier his month in Zhuhai, which has become the main event for the latest in all things Chinese aircraft. It’s China’s largest aircraft expo, while also presenting an opportunity for Beijing to show off its growing robotic muscle — and potential buyers in the developing world. But until recently, the drones on display were usually mock-ups or drawings, not the real thing.

This year, Beijing’s most prominent new drone is the dinosaur-named Wing Loong, or Pterodactyl, according to a round-up at Defense News. The drone is reportedly operational — China has previously shown only models of the drone — and closely resembles the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper, which the Pentagon uses to bomb insurgent hideouts in Pakistan. Few foreign journalists were reportedly allowed to see it, but photos and videos that appeared online prompted ace aviation journalist David Cenciotti to remark that the Wing Loong appeared “largely copied from the U.S. version.”

But a lot cheaper. The Wing Loong reportedly comes at a rather incredible bargain price of one million dollars, compared to the Reaper’s varying price tags in the $30 million range. Now, a word of caution to potential buyers: what you’re getting for that price might not be very capable. But aside from price, the Wing Loong can also reportedly fly for about 20 hours, up to a range of 2,500 miles. It also packs four “hard points” for mounting a variety of laser- and precision-guided bombs. Also pictured on Chinese television was the Wing Loong’s ground control room, similar to the ones used by U.S. drones, but with only three screen-equipped workstations compared to the Reaper’s five.
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