A new Chinese reconnaissance drone has demonstrated its ability in combat trials to track a surveillance target and fly at high altitude for an extended period, the state-owned People’s Daily said on Wednesday.
The WZ-7, which was unveiled in September at the Zhuhai airshow, was also able to pass information to a command center which then relayed it to an airplane group waiting in the air to strike and defend, the newspaper reported.
China’s military has made increasing use of drones to supplement defence and deterrence operations, including sending some in August near the Japanese island of Okinawa, prompting Japan to scramble fighter jets to intercept.
The WZ-7 is considered large among unmanned aerial vehicles, with a 25-metre (82 ft) wingspan and 14 metres long.
While open-source intelligence and satellite images have previously shown the drone being used to carry out routine reconnaissance of China’s borders, this is the first time the military has highlighted its ability to be the “eyes and ears” on a battlefield, said Kelvin Wong, a Singapore-based defence editor at Janes.
Also unveiled at the airshow was the new J-16D electronic jet, designed to evade radar detection and jam enemy radar. It also entered combat training recently, according to a report by state television CCTV last weekend.