China unveiled new CH-7 Drone: A “Clone” Of Northrop Grumman X-47B Drone. A drone with a significant resemblance to the Northrop Grumman X-47B has been unveiled at China’s biggest Zhuhai 2018 Airshow.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has taken the opportunity at the AirShow China 2018 exhibition to unveil a new-generation stealth unmanned combat aircraft.
CASC is planning to unveil its new CH-7 fighter-sized stealth unmanned combat aircraft during the AirShow China 2018 exhibition, which is set to take place in Zhuhai from 6–11 November.
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The first prototype will have a 20 m wingspan and a cruising altitude of less than 10000 – 13000 m.
We don’t know whether it is a full-scale mock-up or just a scale model of an existing or future prototype; still, the available images provide enough details for some analysis.
According to CASC’s officials, the new CH-7 is a stealth unmanned reconnaissance aircraft but some experts said that this is a new Chinese unmanned combat air system a similar to Northrop Grumman X-47B. It aircraft is designed for stealth or low observable relevant requirements.
Chinese clone of RQ-170. pic.twitter.com/Eql2JfK7vF
— Alert 5 (@alert5) November 4, 2018
Some observers suggested the Chinese drone is a sort of copy of the famous Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, the stealth drone captured by Iran in 2011 and then reverse-engineered by Tehran: according to the information circulating on the Chinese Defense forums, a group of 17 Chinese experts flew to Iran 4 days after only four days after the Sentinel drone had crash-landed in Iran during a spy mission, not only to inspect but also to collect and bring back to China some key components of the RQ-170.
While it’s extremely likely that China had the opportunity to inspect the drone and copy the circuitry, lenses, sensors that probably survived the mysterious crash landing, the shape of the article exhibited at Zhuhai seems to be more similar to the Northrop Grumman Unmanned Carrier Air Vehicle demonstrator (UCAS-D) aircraft of the X-47B program than the Lockheed Martin RQ-170.
The War Zone’s Joseph Trevithick and Tyler Rogoway, describe the large flying wing-shaped aircraft hidden under tarps said:
“From what little we can tell of the platform under the mats, it appears to be similar in configuration to something roughly akin to an X-47B, but with more slender outer wings and less of accentuated ‘cranked kite’ configuration.”
Look! A new version of the latest Lockheed Martin drone… oh whoops. pic.twitter.com/GhQIvVLTkR
— Sean Gallagher (@thepacketrat) November 1, 2018
The new drone seems to be largely based on the X-47B with some modifications, including slightly different intake, nose section, and landing gear. The front nose gear bay door reminds the one of another quite famous Northrop Grumman stealth aircraft: the B-2 Spirit bomber.
CH-7 will can to conduct last reconnaissance, guard detection, air defense operation, and operation support. It can also launch a strike or guide other weapons to hit on targets of high value.
image credit: Chinese Internet via @Alert5