China Airshow: Drone And Fighter Jet Unveiled

China Airshow: Drone And Fighter Jet Unveiled

China has taken the wraps off its latest military drone and fighter plane as the country builds up its defence capabilities.

The unmanned Yi Long drone can carry two missiles and although it looks similar to the MQ-9 Reaper used by the British and US military it is likely to be priced far more cheaply.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper put the cost of the Chinese drone at around \$1m (£630,000).

Andrei Chang, a Hong Kong-based military expert who edits Kanwa Defence Monthly, said: "The Chinese have spent a lot of money to develop a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).

"They know that in future wars unmanned warfare will be very important."

The drone, which is built by China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC), was unveiled at an air show in the city of Zhuhai.

The company also displayed a model of its next-generation fighter plane, reported by the People's Daily newspaper to be the J-31, a stealth plane that had its first test flight only last month.

It is similar in design to the F-35 Lightning II, which completed its first in-flight weapons release during a test flight earlier this year.

Around 4,500 F-35s are expected to be produced, with the US and the UK among the biggest customers.

An AVIC official was quoted by the Sina website as saying that the J-31 is a "concept" plane that remains under development.

China's first stealth fighter, the J-20, was unveiled in early 2011 but is not expected to enter service until 2018.

The air show was held as China's Communist Party meets to select the country's new leaders , including those for the party's Central Military Commission, which controls the armed forces.

The new leaders are expected to be announced on Thursday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao last week called on his country to step up the military's technological capabilities, saying its most important task was to be able to "win a local war in an information age".

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