Aircraft Carrier, Stealth Fighter And Now Drone: China's Military Is "Catching Up"

Tyler Durden's picture

Some time ago it was revealed that in its rush to "catch up" with western military technology, China has now developed an aircraft carrier and a stealth fighter (reverse engineering efficiency notwithstanding). Now, it appears that China has developed its first ever unmanned drone. Wired has the latest: "It was another big reveal in a long history of them. Six months after the Chinese air force let the first photos of its new stealth fighter
leak online, Beijing’s military has “accidentally” showed off another
secretive weapon system: a small drone, apparently used to scout ahead
of China’s fast-growing fleet of warships. Details of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle — gleaned entirely from a snapshot
(.pdf) taken by a Japanese navy patrol plane last week — are sketchy,
at best. But the new UAV certainly represents a step forward in China’s development of American-style spy drones." Of course, the "leak" is anything but, and is merely another attempt to demonstrate its ongoing scramble to keep up with the US across all verticals. After all: why peg to the dollar, if you can't peg to the military. And while these attempts at oneupmanship are childish, expect to see a very vocal response from the headline hungry general population which may soon find itself in a "panic" over the fact that the biggest communist power in the world is suddenly getting "just as strong."

From Wired:

The drone (pictured above) appears to be small, possibly no more than
a dozen feet in length. Since it was spotted far from land in the
company of Chinese warships, it’s likely that the flying robot is
launched from the helicopter flight deck of a frigate or destroyer —
though the exact methods of launch and recovery remain unclear. (U.S.
naval drones use catapults
or take off vertically.) The UAV’s apparent small size implies a
limited range and basic sensors, particularly given China’s problems building robots and advanced military electronics.

The circumstances of the pilotless plane’s revelation could offer
hints about its role. Early this month, the Chinese navy sailed 11
warships through international waters between two Japanese islands. The two-week deployment — a new, semi-annual tradition for the rapidly-expanding Chinese navy — was probably meant as a display of strength, and included target practice for the ships’ crews.

It just so happens, a drone is an excellent way to spot targets for
long-range gunfire and missiles — especially for a navy that lacks the ultra-high-tech satellites
the U.S. Navy takes for granted. And what could be more impressive for
foreign audiences than “accidentally” letting the Japanese photograph
the new UAV in action?

For all that, the Chinese ‘bot could be fairly dated technology.
Considering where the drone was spotted — at sea, and above warships —
and its apparent size, it’s probably a rough analogue to the U.S. Navy’s RQ-2 Pioneer. During its heyday in 1991, that drone helped the battleship USS Missouri aim its massive, 16-inch guns at Iraqi shore targets. Today, the Pioneer has been superseded in American service by far more sophisticated ship-launched drones.

Wired's conclusion is spot on:

Which is to say: yes, the Chinese have a new UAV, and it’s pretty cool. But publicly launching a flying robot from the deck of a warship for the first time just means the People’s Liberation Army Navy is finally catching up to the where the U.S. Navy was … 20 years ago.

Now... if only they could print 20 times as much as the Fed all shall be well.

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Yen Cross's picture

 that DXY unweighted is getting "BITCH SLAPPED"



monkeyshine's picture

Why should this be a surprise?  Several countries produce drones and I think Israel even exports their technology.

Maybe this is a chance to take another Chinese company public on the Nasdaq? 

BigJim's picture

How dare you criticise Israel. You must be an anti-semite. Or a self-hating Jew™. Or something.

-Michelle-'s picture

The real surprise will be when all of the RC aircraft made in China spontaneously arise from toyboxes around the country and begin attacking us.

Ahmeexnal's picture

Latest chinese tech wonder: nuclear powered chopsticks.

Oh regional Indian's picture

All this silly Janes Defense drama. 

Within the given theater, each party has access to exactly what they are suposed to have. From Nukes/missiles right down to small arms/movers, the works. Mitltary tech, for the most part is nothing but civilian tech with Mil Spec parts and mil spec tolerances in all aspects.

Plus, such a dumb way to fight. Dumb dumb dumb.


Translational Lift's picture

 But the new UAV certainly represents a step forward in China’s development of American-style spy drones.

Yea....It's easy when you can steal the info or buy it from a former POTUS.........

idea_hamster's picture

if only they could print 20 times as much as the Fed all shall be well

Well, since the RMB is (sort of) pegged at 6.5:1, we know they can print 6.5x as fast. 

I don't see any problems with three times quicker.  After all, all my toner is made there....

Arrowflinger's picture

Chinese believe in hard assets.

Kayman's picture

Just like Japan in the 1920's/30's China is building up it's military.  The first play will be the South China Sea or Taiwan.

Thanks to myopic American politicians and Wallmart.

trav7777's picture

Japan had a navy, China doesn't.

All of the items referenced in the original article are a joke...the carrier is not China's, the fighter isn't a fighter or stealth, and this drone?  I've seen better R/C airplanes.

China is great at counterfeiting LV bags, though

Gully Foyle's picture


Builder Blames Navy as Brand-New Warship Disintegrates

The Navy’s newest warship is slowly disappearing, one molecule at a time.

This isn’t a sequel to the 1984 sci-fi flick The Philadelphia Experiment, in which a Navy destroyer-escort vanishes through a time portal in Pennsylvania only to reappear in Nevada, 40 years later.

No, this time the disintegration is real. And so is the resulting tension between the Navy and the disappearing warship’s upstart builder.

The afflicted vessel is USS Independence, the second in the sailing branch’s fleet of fast, reconfigurable Littoral Combat Ships. Eventually, these ships are supposed to be the workhorses” of tomorrow’s Navy.

As Bloomberg reported, the Navy has discovered “aggressive” corrosion around Independence’s engines. The problem is so bad that the barely year-old ship will have to be laid up in a San Diego drydock so workers can replace whole chunks of her hull.

In contrast to the first LCS, the steel-hulled USS Freedom, Independence is made mostly of aluminum. And that’s one root of the ship’s ailment.


Corrosion is a $23-billion-a-year problem in the equipment-heavy U.S. military. But Independence’s decay isn’t a case of mere oxidation, which can usually be prevented by careful maintenance and cleaning. No, the 418-foot-long warship is dissolving due to one whopper of a design flaw.

There are technical terms for this kind of disintegration. Austal USA, Independence’s Alabama-based builder, calls it “galvanic corrosion.” Civilian scientists know it as “electrolysis.” It’s what occurs when “two dissimilar metals, after being in electrical contact with one another, corrode at different rates,” Austal explained in a statement.

“That suggests to me the metal is completely gone, not rusted,” naval analyst Raymond Pritchett wrote of Independence’s problem.

Independence’s corrosion is concentrated in her water jets — shipboard versions of airplane engines — where steel “impeller housings” come in contact with the surrounding aluminum structure. Electrical charges possibly originating in the ship’s combat systems apparently sparked the electrolysis.

It’s not clear why Austal and the Navy didn’t see this coming. Austal has built hundreds of aluminum ferries for civilian customers. The Navy, for its part, has operated mixed aluminum-and-steel warships in the past.

But Independence — the Navy’s first triple-hull combatant — could be a special case for both the builder and the operator. For all Austal’s chops building civilian ferries, the Australian company is new to the warship business. Austal set up shop near Mobile in 1999. Today, the shipyard has contracts to build 10 LCS, plus several catamaran transports for the Navy.

From the Navy’s point of view, Independence and the other Littoral Combat Ships are unique. As in, uniquely cheap. Each vessel is supposed to cost just $400 million, compared to more than a billion bucks for a larger, all-steel Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.

Lots of things — major weapons, for one — have been left off the LCS in order to keep the price down. The list of deleted items includes something called a “Cathodic Protection System,” which is designed to prevent electrolysis.

Independence will get the protection system installed at the first opportunity, and future LCSs will include it from the beginning, according to Pritchett.

But instead of simply filing the corrosion issue under “lessons learned,” Austal seems determined to blame its customer. “Galvanic corrosion has not been a factor on any Austal-built and fully maintained vessel,” Austal stressed, implying that Independence hasn’t been “fully maintained” by a negligent Navy.

That’s an, ahem, interesting approach to customer relations for America’s newest warship-builder.

And things could get worse, as more LCSs enter the fleet. “I suspect there will be other public problems revealed over time that will require relatively simple, albeit costly, solutions,” Pritchett wrote. Will Austal also blame the Navy the next time a glitch appears in the ships it builds?

trav7777's picture

galvanic corrosion is known from the renaissance, and cathodic protection, etc.  This type of mistake is ridiculous.

Hedgetard55's picture

 The list of deleted items includes something called a “Cathodic Protection System,” which is designed to prevent electrolysis.


We had such a system on the FF-1052 class frigate I served on from 77-80. Every ship in the Fleet had one. How could they have "forgotten" this? Speaks volumes about the state of Navy shipbuilding today.


And a ship with two hulls and no major weapons systems? A floating brothel.

mickeyman's picture

Instead of sacrificial anodes, they used a sacrificial warship

Ag1761's picture

The term uniquely cheap here sort of is a typical ly good starting point to working out wtf is wrong.

Galvanic, or more precisely, Bi-Metallic corrosion occurs when a couple of metals that don't like each other get together under the influence of an electrolyte. The electrolyte here is sea water, and I assume the hull is corroding where it joins the water jets. The flow of current from the alloy to the hull must be accelerated by either an untried alloy by this manufacturer, maybe 15 or 20 possible combinations, or a possible salt build up on the skin of the alloy which has bonded to the initial oxidation layer. I've come across this in some de-sal station pumps before.

There can be a simple fix, not ideal but enough to redo every couple of years and thats to coat the alloy with a simple polymer.

In this case, not sure whether it would impact on the water jets performance over time. Regular maintenence and inspection should keep her ok. Gimme a day or two in the lab and I'll suss it out.

But hey, it's a US Ship and they will want to fleece the tax payer for another few tens of millions.

I'll do the job for a dozen monster boxes, just need some help lifting the jets down when she is in dry dock. Any Volunteers!

Gully Foyle's picture


U.S. military spends a cool $20billion on air conditioning annually in Iraq and Afghanistan

The U.S. military forks out a whopping $20.2billion a year on keeping troops in Iraq and Afghanistan cool, it has emerged.

The alarming figure is more than Nasa's entire annual budget and trumps the amount the G-8 has pledged to aid Egypt and Tunisia.

It's even more than the clean up cost of BPs Gulf oil spill.

DaveyJones's picture

I love how we spend the last easy oil on air conditioning in 120 instead of building the innevitable new systems  

AnAnonymous's picture

U.S. military spends a cool $20billion on air conditioning annually in Iraq and Afghanistan


US citizens are unrivalled when it comes to consumption. It is only through unmitigated modesty they manage to  belittle their own achievements in this department, still maintaining that overconsumption/overpopulation is a matter of numbers and that killing people who are low on consumption will resolve the issue.


The US is not the solution, the US is the problem.

zerozulu's picture

Since it cost US$0.06 to print a 100 dollar bill, it is actually US$12,120,000

BigJim's picture

China is great at counterfeiting LV bags, though

That sounds harmless. But what if they manage to counterfeit Margaret Thatcher too?

Rynak's picture

China technologically doesn't need to "be even" to the USA - in fact, no country *including* the USA needs what the USA is currently doing.

The US military is economically inefficient. A lot of tech-porn gadgets that offer little practical advantage relative to the involved construction and especially maintenance cost. What a country needs to resist the USA, simply is hardware that gets the job done, is versatile in purpose, and is maintenance friendly. Actually, even USA's own statistics, say quite clearly, that their biggest tech-wonders are in practice mostly for show and to enrich the defense industry: When you look at stats of for which missions and tasks which types of equipment did best do the job, then it is not a bunch of stealth bombers, not a bunch of F22's..... but instead solid multipurpose workhorses, which's tech is from about 15 to 50 (fifty) years ago. To take aircrafts as an example: The F-16, F-15, F-18 and ..... yep, the B-52 (which until today has the highest fitness-for-mission rate of any US bomber)

If china can get to where the US was 20 years ago, and keep production and maintenance costs down, then strategically should actually have overtaken the USA. Especially if it takes a creative route to developing hardware that is purely meant for tactical purposes (i.e. dummies).

P.S.: Wonder why the USA then at least in terms of military defeated so many opponents in the last 20 years? Well, here's how the USA actually wins so many wars:

1. Information. Satelites, AWACS, and so on.

2. Training and experience

3. Sheer advantage in numbers and having equipment for every task

4. Geopolitical advantage: When they launch a war, they typically can enter from almost every side - at the same time.

5. The opponent having tech, that is even older than "where the US was 20 years ago"

trav7777's picture

oh; I agree...the F22 weapons only have relevance against other topline fighters.  We never pick fights with those guys

Rynak's picture

And even against other toplevel military: What country can sustain building masses of such hightech wonders? All those next-generation aircraft, buy their marginal superiority, by making compromises in critical other areas: Load capacity, maintenance costs, range/loiter capability, etc. And even then their superiority basically is an arms race against ammunition and radars, which also improve constantly.... what is left of such a jet, when 10 years later its one or two main features get neutralized? A plane performing worse than a planes from 20 years ago.

Military aircraft in principle are simply highly mobile missile and radar platforms. What happens when design compromises and costs, mean that you ultimately have a lower capability of launching missiles and doing recon via radar? Well, you end up with planes, which are only efficient as "commandos": Striking single targets relatively safely. Those are not planes that have the range and load to attack multiple targets, or take on targets of opportunity.... heck, their load is so low, that they cannot even efficiently defend themselves, once they're detected (the F-35 comes to mind).

Having a handful of such planes, for special missions, may make sense. But even thinking of making such planes the backbone of the airforce, is economically, strategically and tactically insane. If i were up against such an enemy, and had 10 years available for preparations, i'd laugh my ass off, and put all development into missiles (air and ground launched) as well as radar tech.... and then equip lots of 20 years old jets and ground-based launchers with that, and deploy a bunch of dummy targets.... and swarm them in a hail of missiles, while they try to figure out which targets are real, with their low load. Who cares if only every 2nd missile hits, when you can just fire 3 missiles? :)  (if i had more than 10 years, i wouldn't even bother with missiles, but instead research a modern kind of the good old AA-guns, aided by improved radars)

Manthong's picture

Their whole drone program investment doesn't amount to even one month's interest payment to them from us.

And what a waste of perfectly good yuan. They could get cheaper and better results from a few million people’s army “volunteers” with cell phones, binoculars, lawn chairs and weather balloons. :-)

edotabin's picture

Drone Bitchez!

Say cheeeese...... until they attach missles to those things.

Critical Path's picture

Perfect sea going drone, considering it looks oddly similiar to a flying dolphin.

spanish inquisition's picture

By god,  they are either shooting trained dolphins or have taught them to fly.

Apparently we were fooled by their massive build up of 1 aircraft carrier, 1 stealth plane and 1 drone.

It is obvious we have been fooled and need to catch up in the catapulted / flying dolphin weaponization.

ZakuKommander's picture

Gee, if the American public panicked, particularly with an election coming up, would it be possible that the parties could be stampeded into even more spending to protect us from yet another bogeyman, which in turn could result in even more printing/borrowing, which in turn could . . .

Shades of the Last Days of the USSR . . .

Dr. Richard Head's picture

No shit. China would be THE consumate boogey man indeed. They took our jobs remember. Damn capitalists.

trav7777's picture

you call their economy capitalist??

Dr. Richard Head's picture

Just comparing horses at the glue factory really.

darkaeye's picture

Its truer to capitalism than the fascist crap we have in the USSA police state.

trav7777's picture

more nonsequitur bullshit.

Listen up, idiots...calling China's economy NOT capitalist is NOT THE SAME as saying that OUR economy IS capitalist.

One statement does NOT IMPLY THE OTHER

GoinFawr's picture

Yah guys, sheesh. That's almost as stupid as implying that intelligence is a function of skin pigmentation; not quite, but it's close.

DaveyJones's picture

In the 70s, my best friend's grandmother thought blacks were athletically superior because god gave them a longer tibia and so, in a trade, he made them intellectually inferior. I kinda forgave her because you know, she was born at the turn of the century. Not sure how to explain the current crop.

Use of Weapons's picture


Note the comments - not one makes the (correct) leap of logic that their caging / treatment has lead to severe psychological trauma. The same is exactly the same for modern wage-slaves.

trav7777's picture

Is your statement intended to imply something about recidivism among violent offenders?

Hapte's picture

Inferiority complexes coupled with self-victimization.

trav7777's picture

So you're saying more people are atheists now?

trav7777's picture

If anybody here ever did imply such a stupid thing, I'd call them an idiot too.

However, if they mentioned the rather strong correlation between the two (same cause), then I would point out that they were correct, BECAUSE THEY ARE.

GoinFawr's picture

Except that they aren't, and all-caps won't make it so.

OTOH thanks for being such a great example of my point.

AnAnonymous's picture

more nonsequitur bullshit.


China and the US both are capitalist.

Mercury's picture

 Now, it appears that China has developed its first ever unmanned drone...

While the Chinese military-tech ramp-up is a big story I don't see what the big deal is about their building drone aircraft. If they have the technology to build a stealth fighter of course they have the technology to build a remote controlled, gas powered  model airplane.

The real take-away here is than the Chinese government now values human life enough to actually be concerned about loosing a pilot.