My wife would applaud Beijing’s zeal to market its UAVs.
This year, Beijing’s most prominent new drone is the dinosaur-named Wing Loong, or Pterodactyl, according to a round-up at Defense News. The drone is reportedly operational — China has previously shown only models of the drone — and closely resembles the U.S. MQ-9 Reaper, which the Pentagon uses to bomb insurgent hideouts in Pakistan. Few foreign journalists were reportedly allowed to see it, but photos and videos that appeared online prompted ace aviation journalist David Cenciotti to remark that the Wing Loong appeared “largely copied from the U.S. version.”
But a lot cheaper. The Wing Loong reportedly comes at a rather incredible bargain price of $1 million, compared to the Reaper’s varying price tags in the $30 million range. Now, a word of caution to potential buyers: What you’re getting for that price might not be very capable. But aside from price, the Wing Loong can also reportedly fly for about 20 hours, up to a range of 2,500 miles. It also packs four “hard points” for mounting a variety of laser- and precision-guided bombs. Also pictured on Chinese television was the Wing Loong’s ground control room, similar to the ones used by U.S. drones, but with only three-screen-equipped workstations compared to the Reaper’s five.
Another drone spotted with a clear resemblance to the Reaper is the CH-4. This drone was only a scale model, but reportedly has largely similar features to the Wing Loong. Its reported maximum range is shorter: a little over 2,000 miles, but has 10 hours more endurance time. Chinese companies also showed off a number of small mini-drones, and concept photos of a number of futuristic concepts, including a robotic shark, missile-spewing drone helicopters and unmanned bombers. The tech also included plenty of non-robotic items. There was a new anti-missile missile called the FD-2000. There was a Chinese copy of the U.S. military’s line of bomb-resistant MRAP trucks, a wearable computer system for ground troops, aircraft radars and a whole mess of various machine guns, anti-aircraft cannons and bombs.
Yes, video-gamed death from the skies on the cheap and squeezing American products out of the market! Does the military-industrial complex need some stripped-down starter models that will keep the region awash in military kit? And, is Beijing just going to bid down America until attacking any state is just too expensive?