China no longer wants to play second-fiddle to the US in the military UAV sphere.
Newsweek reports that top Chinese drone engineers say China’s military drone programme is ramping up and moving to the next level.
New developments include fleets of UAVs that can be launched from aircraft carriers, bolstering the Chinese naval capabilities and swarm-intelligence systems that synchronize operations between drones and other military aircraft.
The most advanced drone specimen emerging from an increasingly confident Chinese regime is the CH-5 (also known as the Rainbow-5).First tested in 2015, the craft has a 69-foot (21-meter) wingspan, is able to carry as many as 24 missiles at a time, can fly for up to 60 hours and has a 4,000-mile range (6437 km). Future upgrades to this UAV are expected to extend the range to 6,000 miles (9656 km).
One of the biggest advantages the CH-5 has compared to it’s US counterpart, The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper, is the cost. The CH-5 costs less than half the price meaning it delivers a far bigger bang for those military bucks. China have sold previous iterations of the CH drones to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
According to experts, China is closing the technology gap with the US and have done so through a combination of their own innovations and intellectual property theft.
We should point out that in terms of raw military strength, the US is still light-years ahead of their geopolitical rival. That aside, the world’s most populous nation has increasingly flexed their muscles in recent years. In 2018, China boosted their military spending 8.1 percent to $175 billion. This figure puts them second overall in the world for total military expenditure. This figure, while impressive, is positively dwarfed by the United States, who will spend $700 billion on their military in the coming year.