Handout/Zhongtian Feilong Intelligent Technology
- A Chinese military drone manufacturer claims its new drone is better than the U.S.’s upcoming B-21 Raider bomber.
- The mysterious Raider will be the Air Force’s first new bomber in more than 30 years.
- Unless this company has some classified insight into the B-21, it’s impossible to know if the drone’s performance comes anywhere near that of the Raider.
A Chinese military drone manufacturer has reportedly developed a new stealth drone and claims it rivals the B-21 Raider bomber. Sure it does.
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The Feilong-2 (“Flying Dragon 2”) long-range combat drone is a bomber-like aircraft that its developer, Zhongtian Feilong Intelligent Technology of X’ian, China, says nears the B-21 in some ways and is better in others, making it effectively just as good. The claim is, simply put, preposterous.
The South China Morning Post reports:
“[Zhongtian Feilong Intelligent Technology] said the multirole high-subsonic unmanned aerial vehicle could be used for precision strikes on key assets such as enemy command centres, military airstrips and aircraft carriers. The Feilong-2 could also be used with a swarm of drones to carry out reconnaissance and surveillance, a saturation attack or damage assessment, the statement said.”
Zhongtian Feilong says the Feilong-2 “comes close to Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Raider in terms of speed, attack range, payload and stealth capabilities,” but the Chinese drone “is cheaper to produce and is expected to last longer.” The drone reportedly has an internal payload of 6 tons, a range of 4,350 miles, and a speed of 480 miles per hour.
It’s unclear whatever happened to the Feilong-1 drone, or if there ever was one.
The Air Force announced the B-21 Raider in 2016, and the bomber is expected to fly in 2022. Other than computer-generated imagery, however, neither the Air Force nor Northrop Grumman has released any official information regarding the B-21.
So the Raider’s speed, attack range, payload, and stealth capabilities, to use Zhongtian Feilong’s own criteria, are all completely unknown. We don’t even know how big the B-21 is, although rough estimates place it at approximately two-thirds the size of the B-2 Spirit.
And we know even less about the Feilong-2; all we have, in fact, is a singe-side view photograph of the drone, with many of the details obscured. (That’s supposedly it in the main image above.) The B-21 Raider visual, by comparison, shows the entire sweep of the aircraft, from nose to wing, and critically.
The Feilong-2, whenever it comes out, may turn out to be a very good drone. But to characterize it as essentially the equal of a plane that hasn’t even entered service is premature, to say the least.
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