New images have surfaced on social media earlier this week revealing China's supersonic spy drone rolling through the streets of Beijing during a rehearsal ahead of a parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.
The rehearsal was conducted on Sunday and lasted through Monday morning. Observers across the city were able to take pictures of advanced weaponry and share them on social media platforms, domestically and internationally.
The photos sparked a firestorm of conversation on social media platforms, partly due to an unassembled supersonic DR-8 reconnaissance drone was spotted on the back of a military truck. The drone has never been seen before in public.
The South China Morning Post said the DR-8 would play a vital role if a shooting war breaks out with the US in the South China Sea or Western Pacific.
Rick Joe, a Chinese military analyst and author at The Diplomat, tweeted that the DR-8 has similar characteristics to a Lockheed D-21 supersonic drone that retired in the early 1970s.
The new high speed UAV seems similar to D-21 in some respects, but differences exist:— Rick Joe (@RickJoe_PLART) September 15, 2019
- big delta wing with ?winglets vs D-21 wing and fin config
- likely chin intake vs nose intake on D-21
- landing gear ?present, i.e. likely reusable rather than expendable like D-21 pic.twitter.com/Eo6sX7F3Zp
The DR-8 reconnaissance drone will allow China to coordinate strikes on US vessels with DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, and the DF-26 ballistic missiles.
Zhou Chenming, a Beijing-based military commentator, was cited by the Post as saying the DR-8 has a maximum speed of Mach 3.35 (2,570 mph).
Shanghai-based military commentator Shi Lao told the Post that the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been testing the drone extensively, says it can easily reach Guam where a major US military installation resides.
"In fact, this UAV [the DR-8] entered into service a while ago," Shi said.
Another military observer on social media said the drone was "the biggest surprise so far."
The biggest surprise so far, hypersonic UAV. pic.twitter.com/JHxIJdhKFf— dafeng cao (@dafengcao) September 14, 2019
Also spotted in the rehearsal was China's hypersonic DF-17 missile, which can penetrate American missile defense networks through evasive maneuvering while traveling between Mach 5 (3,836 mph) and Mach 10 (7,672 mph).
Zhijun Cai, deputy director of the military parade leading group office, told local media that the weapons in the parade are all active and deployed with the PLA.
A previously undisclosed main battle tank of the PLA that entered service last year was also spotted.
"There will be some exciting new weaponry on show at the parade this year," Zhou said.
Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to attend the celebrations in Tiananmen Square on October 1, which will showcase how China, the rising power of the world, is ready for a fight with the US.