The Chinese produce a wide range of drones. It is a sector in which they truly seem to want to make great strides, according to Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, for its acronym in English) of London. “The export and deployment of these devices allow them to improve the design, as they are tested in real combat situations,” he observes.
Little by little, the Asian country has integrated into the global competition to produce a more technological military arsenal.
“We are convinced that with this product customers will contact us quickly,” says smiling Shi Wen in front of his latest creation: the CH-7, a huge flying wing of gray, furtive and a wingspan of 22 meters -which measures a tennis court.
Shi, chief engineer of the Caihong drone series (“Rainbow”) produced by the state company CASC, is quite proud of his impressive prototype, first presented to the public during the aeronautics show in Zhuhai (south). Closing on Sunday.
The device, exposed next to missiles and equipped with a landing gear, will be able to fly without a pilot to more than 800 km / h and 13,000 meters of height. Your first flight is scheduled for the end of 2019. You may be interested: Drones or unmanned aircraft, solutions in the air
Giant of the space sector, CASC is also known in the military drone sector and has customers “in a dozen countries,” Shi Wen told AFP.
“Some countries say publicly that they use our products, but we do not confirm it, since we quote on the stock exchange” and the less information can influence the price of the title, “certain things are still sensitive”.
Thus, the Iraqi army claimed to have carried out at least 260 bombings against the jihadist organization Islamic State with the help of a CH-4, a CASC model that works very well in exports, Chinese press reported.
In Yemen, the drones “made in China” of the UAE army would have served to attack a rebel leader.
While the United States frequently employs killer drones on its own, they have been reluctant to export them for a long time, for fear that they will be used against their troops abroad or that they will copy the technology.
“This gave China the opportunity to steal the site from the Americans,” said James Char, a specialist in Chinese military affairs at the Nanyang University of Technology in Singapore. “The very competitive prices of Chinese products also play an important role.
Because of this, even the US allies have turned to Beijing, like Jordan, to whom Washington refused to sell him a drone. A situation that led President Donald Trump to alleviate the legislation on arms sales in April.
Too late? In any case, China is already selling its products “to some countries in Asia, the Middle East and Africa,” according to James Char.
For its part, Chinese private companies begin to invest on the ground. “In the Middle East, security is a real problem, there is a real need for military drones,” says Wu Xiaozhen at his stand in Zhuhai’s hall.
Dressed in an impeccable black military uniform, she hands out brochures of her company, Ziyan. Its flagship product: the Blowfish A2, a small 62 cm high helicopter drone with an ultra-resistant Kevlar coating.
“We can add a kalashnikov or a machine gun, you can install different weapons, depending on the client’s wishes,” explains Wu, director of international projects.
The Blowfish is already being used by Abu Dhabi and the company is currently negotiating with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, he says.
“We also want to target Western markets, and our product is of high quality, the result of research and development,” says Wu Xiaozhen. “We do not fear competition from Europeans or Americans.”