China Reports Stealth Drone’s First Test Flight

China DroneChinese state media is reporting the Chinese military completed its first test flight of their stealth drone that looks a  a lot like the U.S. Navy’s X-47B.

Named the “Sharp Sword,” the drone flew for 20 minutes and successfully completed the test over Chengdu.

“The successful flight shows the nation has again narrowed the air-power disparity between itself and Western nations,” state-run newspaper China Daily said in a statement on Friday.

Defense analysts have speculated that the drone is a reverse-engineered copy of Russia’s Mikoyan Skat unmanned aerial vehicle. Not much else is known about the capabilities of the jet-powered drone.

The Chinese also continue to test their two manned stealth fighters the J-20 and J-31. Few details are known about those stealth fighters as well.

In May, a video of the Sharp Sword taxiing down the runway spread across the internet. Chinese officials said then that they were close to being ready to executive the drones’ first test flight.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to He can be reached at
  • Big Daddy

    Making one flight and being combat operational are two completely different things. Many of those systems are 10+ years away from being operational if at all.

  • mpower6428

    Its a good thing the Chinese have us to do most preliminary testing for their exact copy of our system. I mean, its not like they’re NOT going to see the data. only question is… will they see it before OUR techs do.

    I wonder if there is a running joke about our wonder weapons over at Chinese military headquarters…? if so, Id love to hear it.

  • Dfens

    Do you ever wonder what kind of weapons they have that they are not telling us about? I mean, in a supposedly “free” society like we like to say we have people can talk about seeing this or that in the sky without being shot. How much easier is it to keep a secret in a totalitarian suck hole like Communist Red China? But don’t worry, because if you were supposed to worry a defense contractor would have told you so. Plus, when we can crank out new aircraft on a regular 30 year cycle like we do, what is there to worry about?

    • boswell

      I wonder what kind of weapons WE have that we aren’t told about.

  • ID0

    Credible? Or just a rolling mock-up? Can’t be much of a local secret based on the relative location?

  • Hector Q

    here’s what I mean to post:

    The Chinese stuff still seems to be junk, but I am somewhat concerned that the Chinese and us are moving in opposite directions with respect to our abilities to produce high-tech weapons systems. The trend with their stuff is that it’s getting better. With us, the trend is that while we aim to build the very best, it seems that we’re losing the ability to do so. We shoot so high, that we’re not able to properly execute and we can’t build stuff in a reaonable amount of time for a cost that isn’t astronomical. Not a short- or even medium-term concern, but what will things be like in 30 years??

  • Lance

    SO what they copied another UAV or plane design. All China does is steal technology and designs for there own use. I would always relight on China state TV for info they lie and make crap up for there leaders to look BIG as far as we know its BIG flop and it take years to makes it work try not to jump into the sky is falling mentality some here usually do when they retell Chinese propaganda here.

    • It’s smart. Why reinvent the wheel when you can just look at how it’s done already? Industries the world over, of all kinds, not just in China, make use of existing designs and concepts.

      But you shouldn’t assume that this is all the Chinese know how to do. In recent years Chinese firms have begun to make far more patent applications than they used to, reflecting an increase in original innovation. There’s no reason why they can’t catch up and why other nations might not be stealing from them one day. I’m not a sinophile, I’m just saying.. it’s not so simple as the Chinese being born copycats.

      • ike

        There are far more important advantages. Think harder.

        If I remember correctly, China has passed the US in # of patent filings a couple of years ago. Now China is the top patent filer and is projected to be filing more patent apps than the US and Japan combined in a few years.

        • Sleeper

          Yes they did become the top patent filer, but filing a patent and getting it are two separate things. There have been criticism that they need to improve the quality of their patents if they want to lead in innovation. The Chinese state has given companies great incentives to file patents.

          • IKnowIT

            I work in an industry organization where the Chinese have been sending tons of people in the last few years. My observation is that a) they still take a “bigger numbers is better” approach. They try to file as many research papers as possible- and try to push through work all the time. BUT… most of the work is incoherent crap. I guess they think that if they do more, just by the odds eventually they will be in the lead.. And maybe they are right. But people are on to that approach and sort of look at them as being a bit silly- and push back on their work as such. Also, the Chinese get bonuses based on filing research papers- I bet it’s the same with patents. And, both don’t mean squat unless they actually contribute something knew to whatever field they are in. In summary, I am not impressed by the transparent way they try to dominate, or by thier personal level of skill of innovation. They may still dominate by numbers in the end, but it wont be as easy as before- people are on to them..

    • oblatt2

      Copy and Improve. As one business man said recently the “Chinese want to become engineers and doctors, Americans want to be come reality show celebrities – that’s why China is engineering the future and Americans are hoping for a surprise ending.”

      • ruger

        That was one of the most profound explanations I have read in awhile that explains where the US is right now. Thumbs up! yet very…
        Very SAD!

    • SJE

      Copied does not mean crappy. The US and Soviets copied missile technology from the Germans, jet engines and radar from the Germans and UK etc.

      For a long time the West used to laugh at Japan merely copying everything from the West. The Russians stopped laughing in 1905, the Brits in 1940, US Military in 1941, and Detroit around 1980.

  • Smith28

    The way I see it, is China’s ability to reverse engineer other nations civilian and military technology will eventually bite them in the ass. When it comes to developing something from scratch they’ll have no roots/foundation to look back to.

    Unlike Western technology every technologically advancement has some sort of deep base root/foundation. So if there was need for a whole new system like there always is, we can look back at all past projects and use those past platforms and innvations to field better tech.

  • RJuarez23

    Frankly I’d like to see us intentionally build something that looks and acts awesome, “accidently” release it so the Chinese can reverse engineer it then when they show it off in front of the Premier, we press a button and it goes crashing down in a ball of flames right in the middle of Tienamin Square.

    • ifDog

      they might wonder why the drawings call for C-4…

    • ike

      Do you know why the Chinese never copied the F-16, the F-15, the Arleigh Berkes, the Ticons etc?

    • IKnowIT

      That’s funny actually. But in reality, the Chinese have a huge inferiority complex and take it very personally when they are not in the lead. They can’t understand how we (us uncultured, uneducated heathens) can be better than them- hard to explain, but they do feel culturally superior..

      I some cases they might be right, and NOT that I don’t think WE have big issues- but just giving perspective..

      So, in the end, your strategy would probably work!

      • IKnowIT

        I should add a story- In grad school (a good school) I got on a team with a bunch of Indians and Chinese.. They where sort of worried (well, pretty damn worried) about a “white guy” pulling their team down.. But when I did more and better than they did, leading to better grades- I think felt REALLY bad about themselves.. like shamed.. Not sure that gives any more color to the cultural thing, but…

  • HeavyArrow

    Looks more like the Dassault nEUROn UCAS than anything else, judging by the angles that we see.

  • DefenseTechGuest

    Any airplane shape can be copied. The structures, engines, avionics, communications, metallurgy, specialty materials, manufacturing capability, weapons systems, etc, not so much.

    It’s like giving someone a tablet for Christmas, but when they open the box they find an Etch-a-Sketch inside.

  • Rest Pal

    The video is crap. The lousy music is torture to listen to. Better to do without it.

  • CanadianEh!

    Ha-ha…Americans! You are a funny culture. You look at China and think big bad Communist are back ass hillbillies that just copy Western things. Have any of you critics actually been to China and looked around. They build road systems in months not years, and just because they are Communist does not equate to stupidity. Americans have to get of their high horses and realize they are not number one. I wonder how many Asians are building America’s military might…you think they are any different because they don’t hold a green card or aren’t residing in the great US of A. 30 years ago, mainland China was mainly farm country, now they have cities which outclass the US and they did it in no time. Give them a few more years and the States will be copying their tech. If you haven’t noticed, China is better educated, has a stronger economy, more resources and has a massive population of willing workers. Lets not forget to mention you’re sending them all your jobs.

  • greg

    China hasn’t developed anything on their own since spaghetti.

    • mpower6428

      THE HELL YOU SAY…. spaghetti was invented in ” Waco Texas “. get your facts straight JEEEESH.

      • Big-Dean

        As Checkov would say “spaghetti was invested in Russia” :-D

  • King
  • King

    Idiots!!!! Russian copy pffff

  • William_C1

    Based on the wreckage of a certain RQ-170 no doubt.

  • anthony

    Cant even take off? Is this a joke or so??

  • Davis

    Who in hell is giving the Chinese all the military info on these military items we have been using?

  • conradswims

    PRC word for research!. Steal!

    • WarPony

      Grumman x-47 download no doubt.

  • Hefe

    I believe that we should implement better standards for all of the defense industries like boeing and Lockheed with regards to keeping secrets. Things like, don’t put military plans on an internet server. If someone wants to look at the plans they can go and see it for themselves or the plans will be delivered via armed courier. No more overseas conference calls. If anyone works at a defense firm, they should sign an agreement allowing their bank account to be looked at any time. That way it’ll be apparent if anyone has paid them large sums of cash in exchange for technology. That being said, we wouldn’t be concerned about China if we had a balanced budge.

    • WarPony

      Clinton sold US out to the chi-coms years ago, and no doubt BHO is doing the same. It’s all part of the plan to bring the “GREAT” war as prophesied by Albert Pike, and as seen in George Washington’s vision. Or, you could skim over the Book of Revelation and get the gist of the plan of the global central bankster mafia.

    • Navy Seal 9009

      Hefe, you nailed it!

  • WarPony

    Learn to spell and you won’t look like an idiot bragart.

    • SanctimoniousPrick

      that should be braggart….

  • conradswims

    Yea! Me Too!

  • Marshall

    Who’s more worrisome? The communist without, or the socialists within?

    • bull manure

      Good point!

    • Guoyang
  • dubweiser101

    I’m not sure what’s worse, Israel stealing our tech then selling it to our competitors, or our competitors buying it from those who stole it.

  • hibeam

    Meanwhile in America: “He gabe us a phone” “He gonna do more”

  • Justin

    Anyone else notice the large non-stealth feature of the conical shaped jet exhaust???

    • Mike

      yeah, first thing I noticed on it. This is a horrible engineering project. Probably gave it to a bunch of University students and told them to build one like it or else their families will be working in a lead toy factory for ever.

  • Mark
  • SMSgtMac

    Geez people, learn your UAVs will ya? This looks more like the Taranis and nothing like the X-47A or B.

  • aswipe

    don’t worry they don’t have Chuck Norris..

  • mrlee

    Memory seems to be lacking in one and all of these comments. Wasn’t it about one year ago that we had all of the defective electronic parts complaints come to the fore? And where were these parts manufactured? You guessed it, China. Well, if they were manufacturing our spare parts, isn’t that called giving your technology away? And there is an old saying, that military secrets are the most fleeting ones. And before WWII, people were going around mocking the Japanese as too small to be soldiers, and that we would obviously beat them in a fight, so they would never attack us. But then came December 7, 1941. Mao once said that we could go ahead and bomb China and kill half of their people, and they would still outnumber us 2 to 1. True, the odds would be closer to even now, but that would solve a lot of their problems. How many years between getting our first man into space, and having our first space station? And they did it in less than three. Beware of your enemy, he is sneaky, and he is out to get you.

  • Davis

    I wonder how many other military items the Chinese have copied from us, but do they work as ours?

    • Fred Weems
  • wtpworrier

    And yet, you come up with asinine remarks like this….

    • d. kellogg

      So genetically speaking, them “pesky inferior japs” should not have been able to design weapons like the Zero fighter or Long Lance torpedo,
      and those “inferior Chinese” never should’ve invented gunpowder or made crucial contributions to agriculture, astronomy, navigation, and other scientific discovery back in the day, when real credit was only ever given of such things to those of a predominantly white Anglo-Saxon/Nordic genetics and of the Judeo-Christian faiths.

      What a bunch of racist drivel.

      Better to blame these tech blunders on all those lonely engineers in American corporations giving it up (“technical assistance” for the betterment of global corporate profitability margins) all for a piece of some little Asian @ss.
      And who’s the inferior one?

  • wtpworrier

    You could find pictures of our drone on google, or anywhere on the internet…I mean, if China got this tech from anywhere, it was probably wikipedia, or from that dumb azz that defected not too long ago.

  • roland

    Told you not to use their laptop made hardwares.

  • benny

    You dumb stupd amercans. China has gotten where they are from your stupidity in not guarding tech information and they have the money to do what they want because you continue to shop at Walmart. Remember the old days when Sam Walton aid he would only sell American then he got caught. 98% of what Walmart sells is made in CHINA. So you keep saving money by spending at Walmaret and while you’re t it you’d better learn to speak CHINESE. They are the strongest economic power n the world now and you made them that way. When they get strong enough they will invade Taiwan, and we won’t be able to stop them.

  • V
  • V
  • Leave it to the Chinese military to be the copy-cats of what our Military builds for National Defense… Their drone… Obviously, they have no creative brains…

  • Tata
  • Sev

    China is just doing what’s smart. WHy pay for development when you can steal technology? They aren’t stupid. They send their engineers to learn in the US and they come back and improve on the technology without having to do the bulk of the initial research. If we can’t secure our technical data then you’re going to see this continue and eventually you will not only see original chinese designs but superior and cheaper designs. The US is destroying itself from the inside from it’s overspending, destruction of the family and establishment of an unsustainable welfare state. They have more than enough pressure points on us to press.

  • badryl

    haha, i always laughing when american comments. other nations kill hundreds, thousands u all already barking and shouting, but u already killed millions and still growing around the globe.

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