China's first domestically built helicopter-drone made its maiden flight last week and could soon be deployed on the Sino-India border, reported Global Times.
The AR500C unmanned helicopter, developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), is capable of conducting reconnaissance, communication relay, electronic disruption, and attack missions at heights above 15,000 feet.
"The test flight of the AR500C came at a time when China-India border tensions have been flaring up, as Chinese border defense troops have bolstered border control measures," the tabloid said.
An AR500C was tested at an AVIC facility in Poyang, East China's Jiangxi Province, in which it conducted several aerial maneuvers on Wednesday (May 20).
Chinese air defense expert Fu Qianshao told the tabloid that the helicopter drone does not need a traditional airstrip with long runways, allowing it to be easily deployed in more rugged areas:
"The maiden flight of the AR500C marked a significant technological breakthrough in fields such as rotor and engine design," Fu said, adding that, "thin air on plateaus usually makes it difficult for aircraft to fly."
Global Times specifically notes the arrival of AR500C comes as tensions flare-up on the China-India border. Both sides have been massing troops and remain locked in stand-off positions at several points:
India and China are preparing for more turbulence on the border. Several weeks ago, dozens of Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in a cross-border clash involving fistfights and stone-throwing at a remote but strategically important mountain pass near Tibet.
The violent clash is the first between the two countries since 2017, and it seems border disputes between the nuclear-armed neighbors are not going away anytime soon.
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RT News is reporting Sunday that 800 to 1,000 Chinese troops have crossed into India -- certainly, a move that will escalate tensions between both countries.