America has its MQ-1 Predator drone, which can dispatch Hellfire missiles, and the even more heavily armed MQ-9 Reaper.
But one of the scariest-looking unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) ever was just unveiled – and it belongs to China.
At Airshow China 2016 last week, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation allowed a close-up look at a prototype of its Cai Hong 5 UAV, which can carry up to 16 air-to-ground missiles – making it China’s most powerfully armed remotely piloted aircraft, according to the military information website IHC Jane’s 360.
The CH-5 has almost a 68-foot wingspan, can carry a 2,646-pound payload, flies as high as 30,000 feet, has “operating endurance” of up to 60 hours and can be controlled by satellite as far away as 1,243 miles. Jane’s said.
But San Diego-based General Atomics, which makes various versions of the Predator and the Reaper for the U.S. military, has an answer: The Predator C Avenger, which was scheduled to begin flight testing in September.
The Avenger has a 76-foot wingspan, can “house 3,500 pounds of precision munitions,” flies as high as 50,000 feet, and while its “endurance” of up to a maximum of 20 hours is less than the CH-5, it’s more than twice as fast.