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The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is showcasing a newly revealed jet-powered combat unmanned aerial vehicle () – the Cloud Shadow.
The aircraft can be used for strike as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). It is marketed as a high-altitude and long-endurance (HALE) .
The possesses a payload of 400 kg, cruising altitude of 14,000 m (i.e. 46,000 ft), a maximum speed of 620 km/h, and endurance of six hours. AVIC is offering the with a standard line-of-sight radio connectivity suite, which offers a range of 290 km, as per Shephard Media.
Powered by a single turbojet, this aircraft resembles the General Atomics Avenger.
Flightglobal.com reports that the system has three hard points on the wing, as well as a synthetic aperture radar and EO/IO sensor. It is displayed with ten distinct types of bomb and small missile.
A computer generated video at the AVIC stand shows it destroy a target 60km distant with a glide bomb. Later, it closes in to destroy a moving truck with an anti-tank missile.
AVIC offers Cloud Shadow in two configurations, the “reconnaissance attack” variant and one optimized solely for reconnaissance.
According to quwa.org, China has built and maintained a strong grasp of the market outside of the U.S., Western Europe, and Far East Asia over the past five years. Its principal ingredient of success was in providing various armed designs, such as the CH-4, to countries the U.S. had been reluctant to supply (the MQ-1 Predator), such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and others.
These countries have become AVIC’s essential armed markets, hence it is not surprising to see the company offer substantially different solutions.
The Cloud Shadow certainly puts the U.S.-led initiative to regulate armed sales into perspective. China is evidently committing a heavy amount of resources towards armed development, and when seeing the Cloud Shadow, it begs the question of how long it would be until it is available on the market.
China has evidently opted to limit the actual capabilities of its designs in critical respects. For example, AVIC is only offering the Cloud Shadow with line-of-sight communication connectivity limited to 290 km, i.e. within the confines of the Missile Technology Control Regime (R). However, it is unlikely that Beijing will be stepping away from its valuable market gains.