13 August 2015

Sharp Sword (Li-Jian or Lijian), The New Chinese Stealth UCAV

China has been testing a number of stealth aircraft over the last few years. The Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang "Falcon Hawk" J-31 have both undergone flight tests, with the expectation that they'll become operational towards the end of the decade.

However, China is pushing hard to match the United States' drone capabilities. Other countries experimenting with unmanned aerial vehicles include Britain, France, and Israel.

Sharp Sword (Li-Jian or Lijian), jointly developed by SYADI, SAU and Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), is one of the two models of the AVIC 601-S progressed further than proof of concept design by evolving into larger size (the other being Dark Sword). The Sharp Sword is jet-powered and has a wingspan of 14 meters. It’s not yet known the precise mission Sharp Sword is assigned, but possible missions would including reconnaissance and eventually combat missions.

“The successful flight shows the nation has again narrowed the air-power disparity between itself and Western nations,” state-run newspaper China Daily said in a statement on Friday.

Defense analysts have speculated that the drone is a reverse-engineered copy of Russia’s Mikoyan Skat unmanned aerial vehicle. Not much else is known about the capabilities of the jet-powered drone.

In May, a video of the Sharp Sword taxiing down the runway spread across the internet. Chinese officials said then that they were close to being ready to executive the drones’ first test flight.

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