China unveils concept of drone armed with “loyal winger”


ZHUHAI (Reuters) – China on Wednesday unveiled a drone concept similar in mission – and appearance – to the US-made Kratos XQ-58A Valkyrie as countries rush to invest in “loyal wing” drones for help protect more expensive manned fighter jets.

The FH-97 long-range drone concept unveiled on Wednesday can carry different types of weapons and has swarm and electronic warfare capabilities, said Wu Wei, representative of the Feihong product line of China Aerospace Science Technology Corp. ( CASTC), the UK press service reported. .

He did not provide details in his presentation at Airshow China in Zhuhai. The United States, Great Britain, Australia, India and Russia are among the countries that are developing “loyal wingers” drones, which are cheaper and more consumable than manned fighters.

CASTC did not provide technical details on the concept of the FH-97, or indicate whether it was intended for export, although many foreign observers watched the presentation. The appearance of the FH-97 is almost identical to that of the Kratos XQ-58A, which made its maiden flight in 2019. The XQ-58A has a top speed of Mach 0.85 and a range of approximately 2,200 nautical miles .

Zhang Zhongyang, vice president of CASTC, said the plan was to make Feihong a “premier international brand … and become a major player on the central stage of the world arena.” China has exported military drones to countries like the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Serbia.

“The main customer is certainly the PLA, but in recent years the Chinese have also aggressively marketed these systems for export,” said Collin Koh, defense researcher at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

China also used the country’s largest air show to show off the weaponry capability of one of its most advanced stealth attack drone projects, the GJ-11.

The Global Times reported that the GJ-11 on display at the show had its two weapon bays open for the first time. Inside each were four unidentified munitions that appeared to be precision air-to-ground slip bombs.

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