CHINA - A Chinese stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle had its maiden flight on Thursday, photos taken by military fans revealed.
The successful flight shows the nation has again narrowed the air-power disparity between itself and Western nations.
The Sharp Sword conducted its first flight in a test-flight centre in Southwest China at around 1 pm, fans said on cjdby.net, China’s most popular military website, adding that the test lasted nearly 20 minutes.
Several pictures in the post showed a delta-wing drone in flight with one photo showing its takeoff.
The news and photos have since been widely forwarded by major news websites, including Sina and people.com.cn, the online portal of People’s Daily. Xinhua News Agency also highlighted the pictures on its website.
The Sharp Sword was developed by the Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute and manufactured by Hongdu Aviation Industry Group, military observers said. Both belong to Aviation Industry Corp of China, the nation’s leading aircraft manufacturer.
The drone has been called China’s equivalent to the US’ Northrop Grumman X-47 series and the nEUROn, a joint effort of various European companies.
A worker at the information office of Aviation Industry Corp of China who refused to be named declined to confirm the news on late Thursday.
Since early May, a host of long-distance photos of a Sharp Sword prototype began to appear on several military websites, with observers speculating the photos signaled that the cutting-edge unmanned combat aerial vehicle was going to have its maiden flight soon.