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China's cheaper armed drones now flying across Mideast battlefields

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – High above Yemen's rebel-held city of Hodeida, a drone controlled by Emirati forces hovered as an SUV carrying a top Shiite Houthi rebel official turned onto a small street and stopped, waiting for another vehicle in its convoy to catch up. Seconds later, the SUV exploded in flames, killing Saleh al-Samad, a top political figure. The drone that fired that missile in April was not one of the many American aircraft that have been buzzing across the skies of Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan since Sept. 11, 2001. Across the Middle East, countries locked out of purchasing U.S.-made drones due to rules over excessive civilian casualties are being wooed by Chinese arms dealers, the world's main distributor of armed drones. "The Chinese product now doesn't lack technology, it only lacks market share," said Song Zhongping, a Chinese military analyst and former lecturer at the People's Liberation Army Rocket Force University of Engineering.

China unveils stealth combat drone in development, looks to sell abroad

The Japan Times

ZHUHAI, CHINA – A Chinese state-owned company says it is developing a stealth combat drone in the latest sign of the country's growing aerospace prowess. The CH-7 unmanned aerial vehicle also underscores China's growing competitiveness in the expanding global market for drones. China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the U.S. The CH-7's chief designer, Shi Wen, says the aircraft can "fly long hours, scout and strike the target when necessary." "Very soon, I believe, in the next one to two years, (we) can see the CH-7 flying in the blue skies, gradually being a practical and usable product in the future," Shi told The Associated Press. Shi said manufacturer Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation plans to test fly the drone next year and begin mass production by 2022.

U.S. poised to boost military drone exports

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is nearing completion of new "buy American" rules to make it easier to sell U.S.-made military drones overseas and compete against fast-growing Chinese and Israeli rivals, senior U.S. officials said. While President Donald Trump's aides work on relaxing domestic regulations on drone sales to select allies, Washington will also seek to renegotiate a 1987 missile-control pact with the aim of loosening international restrictions on U.S. exports of unmanned aircraft, according to government and industry sources. At home, the U.S. administration is pressing ahead with its revamp of drone export policy under heavy pressure from American manufacturers and in defiance of human rights advocates who warn of the risk of fueling instability in hot spots including the Middle East and South Asia. The changes, part of a broader effort to overhaul U.S. arms export protocols, could be rolled out by the end of the year under a presidential policy decree, the administration officials said on condition of anonymity. The aim is to help U.S. drone makers -- pioneers in remote-controlled aircraft that have become a centerpiece of counterterrorism strategy -- reassert themselves in the overseas market, where China, Israel and others often sell under less cumbersome restrictions.

Chinese Drones Make Key Breakthrough, Firing on Command by Satellite

Popular Science

This CH-4 drone is carrying two satellite guided bombs on its inner pylons, and two Blue Arrow 7/9 anti-tank missiles on the outer pylons. The CH-4's electro-optical sensor turret is retracted in flight, under the fuselage, to reduce drag. Chinese drones such as the CH-3 and CH-4 have become a key part of the proliferation of the technology, joining China's air force as well as being sold to a wide range of foreign partners, from Myanmar to Saudi Arabia. They have even recently used in battlefields that range from Nigeria to Iraq. However some have argued that the significance of these systems is overblown, as unlike their satellite link equipped American counterparts, Chinese made armed drones could not truly conduct what is known as a "remote split operation."

China's New Armed Drone Helicopter

Popular Science

An anti-tank missile fires by an Iraqi CH-4 drone destroys an ISIS artillery piece, seen in footage captured by the drone's onboard, retractable sensor turret. China's armed CH-3 and CH-4 drones have recently made international news, being used by nations that range from Iraq to Nigeria. And now NORINCO, one of China's leading defense contractors, is getting in on the international drone export game, showing off a new armed drone helicopter. The Sky Saker H300, seen here in Dubai, is China's first helicopter UCAV. Being cheaper and easier to use then larger UCAVs like the Reaper and CH-4, it could become a battalion and company level UCAV for on demand air strikes.