The recently concluded Airshow China 2021 was a debut event for many China-made military drones. Taking its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology to the next level, the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) unveiled drones that could make intercontinental flights, soar to near-space altitudes, and captures high-resolution images even in areas that are heavily guarded, The Global Times reported.
But what is likely to catch the attention of most was the display of the GJ-11 stealth drone with its weapons bay open providing first sight of its attack capabilities. In the works since 2013, this UAV is powered by a single turbofan engine and boasts a massive wingspan of 46 feet (14 m). While details of the drone are largely unknown, it is believed that the drone has a range of 2,485 miles (4,000 km) and a top speed of 621 mph (1,000 kph), and above all, stealth capabilities.
For the first time, however, the GJ-11, or at least its prototype was available for close inspection and showcased two symmetrical weapons bays between the landing gears. Each bay can hold up to four ammunitions, which could be precision-guided glide bombs, The Global Times reported.
Also on display at the Airshow were promotional videos of the GJ-11’s capabilities from its maker, the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group. One such video was shared by The Drive.
Promotional video for the shipborne version of the GJ-11 drone shown by the AVIC at the China Air Show. pic.twitter.com/RDw8COgPAA
— 彩云香江 (@louischeung_hk) October 7, 2021
As shown in this clip, the GJ-11 drones are capable of taking flight from amphibious assault ships, and when closer to the target could also deploy decoys instead of firing ammunition. Although the drone is big, it could possibly not carry enough firepower to take down an enemy ship and therefore, could be tasked to constrain the resources of the ship.
As the video further shows, these drones are beaming some airwaves to their targets, which could either be signal jammers or directed energy weapons. It is unclear what the GJ-11’s current capabilities are but can see that the vision for the drones is not very different from what the U.S. military also intends to develop.
As the U.S. and its allies look to strengthen their presence in Asia, these are some of the possibilities it should look out for.