A video showing a taxiing run of one of China's home-made "Sharp Sword" prototype attack unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has recently been made available online, quickly attracting the attention of large numbers of netizens. Interviewed by a media reporter, military expert Meng Xiangqing said that the news of a "Sharp Sword" maiden flight still needs to be confirmed officially.
The function of this type of stealth attack UAV is to carry out rapid defense penetration missions against long-range and high-value enemy targets, especially targets with a very strong air defense capacity.
Meng Xiangqing said that many images apparently showing the maiden flight of the "Sharp Sword",were available online at present. However, this news has not yet been confirmed officially. We should await final confirmation from a spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense.
Explaining the functions and attack strengths of the UAV, Meng Xiangqing said that one of its tasks on the battlefield was to minimize personnel losses. In addition, it has one major advantage: a long hang time. A human-piloted fighter has a flight limit before pilot fatigue sets in; the UAV is not subject to this limitation. As long as its engine and design permit, an unmanned fighter can hang in the sky for as many hours as its fuel payload can sustain.
Meng Xiangqing said that large military UAVs are mainly classified into two types; the first are high altitude long-range unmanned aircraft, similar to the American "Global Hawk" and "Reaper". This type of UAV mainly carries out scouting and monitoring missions and also has the capacity to attack ground targets. However it also suffers from a defect - since it is not a stealth aircraft, although it has a long hang time, this leaves it subject to a long period of target exposure. This has led to the development of the second type: the stealth attack UAV, the most typical of which are the American X-47B and the French "Neuron", both of which are now in the testing phase.
As has been indicated online, "Sharp Sword" falls into the second category. Its function is to carry out prompt and rapid defense penetration against long-range and high-value enemy targets, especially targets with a very strong air defense capacity. Its combat effectiveness is therefore readily apparent.