Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Is China developing a strategic bombing drone?

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A few days ago, an article published by the Chinese site South China Morning Post hit the headlines among observers of the Chinese military aeronautics industry, announcing that the firm Zhongtian Feilong Intelligent Technology was developing a heavy combat drone, the Feilong 2, whose mission profile would be identical to that of the future American strategic bomber B-21 Raider currently being developed by Northrop Grumman. According to the Chinese company, the prototype is already well advanced, and the entry into service of the FL2 could take place as early as 2026. In terms of performance, Zhongtian Feilong announces a high subsonic speed, a range of 7,000 km, a ceiling of 15,000 meters, and that it would be capable of carrying out strategic nuclear or conventional strikes thanks to its great stealth linked, among other things, to its flying wing profile.

The hypothesis of seeing Beijing equipping itself with a fleet of drone-based long-range strategic bombers is indeed something to worry Westerners. Not only would they represent a strategic threat to the United States and the countries of the Indo-Pacific belt, but we can also imagine that such devices could constitute a formidable anti-ship strike force in the vastness of the Pacific. And as long as the drones are equipped with an in-flight refueling pole, their autonomy would be incomparable to that of piloted aircraft. But it is appropriate, however, to be more than cautious with the announcements made by Zhongtian Feilong, as for the comparison made with the B21 Raider.

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Is China developing a strategic bombing drone? 3

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Fabrice Wolf
Fabrice Wolf
A former French naval aeronautics pilot, Fabrice is the editor and main author of the site. His areas of expertise are military aeronautics, defense economics, air and submarine warfare, and Akita inu.

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