Wendell Minnick

Zhuhai’s airshow showed that China’s UAV’s getting mature, since their first appearance in 1996, writes defense specialist Wendell Minnick in Defense News. One possible target: aircraft carriers.

Wendell Minnick:

This year, the one hint that UAVs might be used against aircraft carriers was an imaginative entry in a competition on future UAV designs sponsored by Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC). In this case, a stealthy Blue Shark UCAV was shown attacking Russia’s Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

Two UCAVs stood out this year at Zhuhai, and both appeared to be influenced by the U.S.-built MQ-9 Reaper. The first was the Wing Loong, built by Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute, and the second was the CH-4, built by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The Wing Loong received the most attention at Zhuhai due to reports of export deals in the works, but there were few details and it was the only static display of an operational UCAV at the show. With four hard points for weapons, armaments on display were the BA-7 semi-active, laser-guided, air-to-ground missile; LS-6/50-kilogram miniature guided bomb; and the YZ-102A precision-guided bomb and YZ-121 laser-guided bomb.

The CH-4 on display was a full-scale model. Also outfitted with four hard points, the only weapons discernible on display were the AR-1 short-range, laser-guided air-to-ground bomb, and the FT-5 precision-guided “small diameter bomb” outfitted with a semi-active laser seeker for terminal guidance.

The AR-1 was first spotted at the 2008 airshow outfitted on the smaller CH-3 UCAV, but nothing more is known about it beyond its similarities to the AGM-114 Hellfire.

More in Defense News.

Wendell Minnick is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Is China able to become an innovative force? The China Weekly Hangout discussed the issue last month with Greg Anderson, Janet Carmosky and Fons Tuinstra.

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