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China’s military is rapidly developing unmanned aircraft and recently disclosed one of its newest systems: a supersonic reconnaissance drone designed to defeat air and missile defenses.
The DR-8 drone, covered in a camouflage tarp on a flatbed truck, was seen for the first time in photographs published on Chinese social media. The drone was included in a rehearsal in Beijing for a major military parade set for Oct. 1, the anniversary of the founding of China’s Communist Party regime.
Satellite photographs of the rehearsal also showed two other drones with the DR-8, including the new Sharp Sword stealth attack drone, which is capable of firing air-to-ground missiles.
Military analysts say the DR-8, which already may be deployed with People’s Liberation Army forces, is a key element needed for targeting and guiding China’s large missile force, especially its DF-21 anti-ship ballistic missile. The drone would function as a critical sensor platform to identify the locations of U.S. aircraft carriers and then provide signals used by precision guided missiles.
China has been developing such arms as part of what the Pentagon calls “anti-access/area denial” weapons.
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