China conducts successful test-flight of stealth drone

Nov. 22, 2013 at 8:39 AM
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BEIJING, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- China successfully flew its first unmanned stealth aircraft at a test-flight center in the country's southwest region, military fans said on a website.

Enthusiasts posting on China's military website, cjdby.net, indicated Sharp Sword's maiden flight Thursday lasted about 20 minutes, the BBC reported Friday.

Photos posted on the website included ones showing a delta-wing drone taking off and while in flight.

The drone was developed by the Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute and manufactured by Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, officials said. Both are part of Aviation Industry Corp. of China, the nation's leading aircraft manufacturer.

The BBC said drone has been characterized as China's equivalent to the United States' Northrop Grumman X-47 series and the nEUROn, a joint effort of several European companies.

With its test flight, China became the fourth world power -- joining the United States, the European Union and Britain -- with stealth drone capabilities.

"The drone can be used for reconnaissance and an air-to-ground strike, but more importantly, it has a huge potential for aircraft carriers," Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told China Daily. "I think the size and technological capability of the Sharp Sword make it a suitable choice for the navy if it is to select an unmanned combat platform for its aircraft carrier."

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