Since the Russians revealed the Yasen class, Russian designations Project 885 Yasen and Project 885M Yasen-M (a series of nuclear powered cruise missile submarines) we all have been waiting for China to show off their exuberant technical skills while preparing for war. Our wait culminated with China revealing its new “Loyal Wingman’, an armed drone to help protect pricier crewed fighter jets which is similar in mission and appearance to the US built Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie.
The long range FH 97 drone concept claims that it can carry heterogeneous weapons besides having swarm and electronic warfare capabilities, said Wu Wei, a representative of China Aerospace Science Technology Corp’s (CASTC) Feihong product line. His presentation at Airshow China in Zhuhai did not contain specifics for obvious reasons.
Other countries partaking in the drone race are the United States, Britain, India, Australia and Russia who are working in the same template – ‘Loyal Wingman’ drones which are cheaper and more expendable than crewed fighters. Although there were many foreign audiences to the show no plan of exporting the drone was revealed nor any technical details of the FH 97 provided.
The FH-97’s the Kratos XQ-58A are much of a muchness. Kratos, which made its opening flight in 2019 has a maximum speed of Mach 0.85 and a range of about 2,200 nautical miles while NATOs is Mach 4 and India’s indigenous Brahmos missile has Mach 7 and is the fastest even today.
Zhang Zhongyang, vice president of CASTC said the plan was to turn Feihong into an “international top notch brand… and become a major player at the center tage of the world arena.” China has a history of exporting military drones to countries including the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Serbia. “The chief customer is certainly the PLA, but in recent years the Chinese are also aggressively marketing these systems for exports,” said Collin Koh, a defence research fellow with Singapore’s Rajaratnam School of International Studies. China has not delayed in displaying the weapons capability of one of its most advanced stealth attack drone projects, the GJ-11 via the nation’s biggest air show.
“With an unrivalled domestic market and increasing participation of private investment, it is only a matter of time for China to resolve external tech blockages,” Wang Yanan, chief editor of Beijing based Aerospace Knowledge magazine told the Global Times in response to the Reuters story.
China also revealed its expectation to launch the next generation of heavy-duty rockets, powerful enough to send a crewed spacecraft to the moon, in 2028 a couple of years earlier than expected. Boeing, pedalling frantically in this race is developing the Solar Eagle, a solar powered UAV that will be able to stay aloft at very high altitudes for five continuous years.
The Global Times reported that the GJ-11 on display at the show had its two weapons bays open for the first time inside which were four unidentified munitions that appeared to be precision air-to-ground glide bombs. From a technical point of view it is an escalating advancement in engineering but our fingers crossed that these drones won’t be used immorally like the US terror drones striking indiscriminately on non combatant civilians (including women and children) that are not even reported by the mainstream media.
Legal experts all over the world have condemned US tactics, nullifying US administration officials’ claim that covert attacks anywhere in the world are legal. International, constitutional and US statute laws say otherwise. Manufacturing a drone is not a big deal and it is a matter of time when countries will take Us’ lead to create a plethora of landmines like those that still exist in Vietnam plus the robots can not be held accountable.