A video featuring China’s new unmanned stealth aircraft, the Sky Hawk, was shown for the first time on China Central Television (CCTV) on Saturday.

Developed by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, the Sky Hawk conducted a test flight at an undisclosed location in China, the CCTV report said.

The video showed the drone taking off and landing, marking the first time that the aircraft has been publicly seen in flight.

The drone reportedly first flew in February last year but this is the first public flight.

“Battlefields of the future will be very intense and confrontational, and stealthy drones like the Sky Hawk will have a huge role to play,” Ma Hongzhong, its chief engineer at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, told news portal Thepaper.cn on Thursday.

“Manned-unmanned teaming is the technology of the future and the Sky Hawk has such a capability.”

The drone appears to be similar in shape to the X-44A drone which was recently unveiled by Lockheed Martin. Observers have said the Chinese drone is likely to have a wingspan of around 35 feet (just over 10 metres).



  1. “Battlefields of the future will be very intense and confrontational and stealthy Drones like the Skyhawk will have a huge role to play”
    Yup, and Judging by the UK’s Ability to Hunt down and Destroy the latest Chinese Imports over Gatport Airwick and Heathrow, We’ll be Well able to Cope.


    • Commercial drones that pose no direct danger to the public unless they are shot down and military drones that are much larger and pose a threat to the public unless they are shot down are not even close to being the same problem…

      • I believe that the Commercial Drones posed a major threat to the Public, at least a Passenger plane’s worth, not to mention any poor Soles on the Ground. Military Drones also come In Various Sizes as I’m sure you are aware.

        • Not the ones the article is talking about. Plus commercial drones are not a major threat. If they are detected then aircraft are grounded while they deal with the issue.

          China is also not going to be flying DJI drones in from china to attack the UK, They only have a range of a couple of miles!

          The point is that the Gatwick issue was because it was more dangerous to shoot the drone down than to let it fly. If that situation changed then we have many ways to take out a threat.

          • Lee, I know all that mate. My original comment was more Sarcastic than Serious but there is a worry that We seemed unable to cope with, as you say a non major threat, Don’t you think ?
            The CAA and the UK Government Thought so and Thousands of Passengers were actually affected.
            Heaven forbid another Lockerby event caused by a DJI.

  2. China is making enormous strides.

    You buy a lot of R&D for your Renminbi.

    When defence expenditure is given as a percentage of GDP does that include the lower labour resource costs of nations like China versus more developed economies like the UK? Even a small relative difference will give a significant boost to R&D purchasing power.

    I have a feeling we’re not comparing apples with apples here. Can anyone comment?

    • Not just labour but also cost of raw materials, which China has in huge supply, whilst the UK has to import. There is also the speed of build coming from the reduced manpower cost and available manpower, giving reduced overall costs (think cost increases caused by slowing down the build rate on the carriers etc).

      It’s impossible to really compare, as even comparing against assets doesn’t work, since we have no idea how capable they are or how paper thin the supplies are etc etc.

      You could reduce down the GDP by average cost of living or average wage, but even that only compensates for part of the differences.

    • “China Is Making Enormous Strides”

      Sorry to drag this Up but, That’s just so funny I want to make a Witty Reply.
      Are they for Mr Trump ?
      “Donald, Wears (where’s) Yer Trousers ? “.

      not sure anyone will get the Humour but, Hey Ho.

  3. China sucks, aren’t they embarrassed at how they copy everything and don’t invent anything! Even most of the Chinese big projects in country are managed and designed by Europeans or westerners… they are re a joke. And the so called stealth jet they copied actually has no stealth atall… it just looks stealth, just like most Chinese junk.

    • And we weren’t spying and stealing on the Russians through out the cold war, or the Germans during WW1/WW2, and probably China now. GCHQ/MI6(SIS) are around for this purpose.

      Spying is just part of the international game, i kind of get bored when people point fingers are china for hacking etc, when we know full well the west is doing the same in reverse.

      • Problem is we buy endless amounts of crap from them and they get stuff like this in return.

        We should make our own.

        Went to M&S and Debenhams with the wife yesterday and they have changed beyond recognition. Where is the quality British made stuff?

        It’s all made in China these days.

        We only have ourselves to blame.

        • Well yes. The British public want cheap mass market stuff and are not willing to pay for more expensive British built stuff so it is pretty self explanatory really. It is not that we are not capable of building great things. We build some astonishing cars, amazing Hi-Fi systems, some great quality clothing etc etc but they end up being niche because people want cheap.

      • We don’t copy them, They copy Us.
        We don’t buy Our Quality Built Stuff, We buy Their Crap.
        Our stuff used to Last, Theirs just goes wrong.
        If we all stopped buying their Crap then We might have a better Economy, Theirs would be growing at a far less rate and They wouldn’t be able to purchase so much Military Equipment, thus negating the very huge threat to the World and Asia that they now Pose.

        Stop Buying their crap. init.

        It ain’t rocket Science.

      • Not aware of much significant that was copied directly from the Germans during the war, the tight nose cowl for the Centaurus powered Tempest Mk 2 (which barely featured before the end) but found its way into the Fury/Ses Fury post war comes immediately to mind but that wasn’t through spying that was due to a lost pilot landing his FW 190 onto a UK airfield so we clearly didn’t copy their navigation aids. Indeed technological spying on the Reich would have been almost impossible I suspect, the appropriation of a Enigma pre war being the best example I guess. Any examples anyone can offer? And any ideas what we stole from the Russians post war?

        Plenty that the Russians stole from the Germans post war of course direct, as did we and the Americans managed to steal from the Germans and effectively us through reverse lend lease to pretty much base much of their post war expansion and technological superiority upon. Oh and we gave the Russians jet technology sadly when Labour were in power post war.

        Interesting question none the less and worth some thought just think it’s more difficult to steal from ‘spying’ from a dictatorship than an open society for obvious reasons.

        • We pretty much lifted most of the German industrial secrets at the end of the war… To be fair though we did have plenty of our own inventions too. The Chinese see to simply copy but not offer anything to go the other way.

          • I agree with you there. To the Victor, the Spoils. Then we helped them rebuild. VAG, BMW, Mercedes etc.

      • But the west buys plastic junk from China , while China buys high-tech from us, or steals it. IBM sold its PC business to China, lock, stock, and barrel. Now we can buy Chinese PCs called Lenova. I don’t think the situation is symmetrical.

      • The trouble is that as consumers we’ve become such a superficial, possession-obsessed instant-gratification society that the vast majority of people aren’t willing to pay a premium for quality, they’d rather get more stuff that superficially looks good and impresses their friends and neighbours even if ultimately it breaks, wears out etc. Until people actually start craving quality again rather than wanting stuff to be as cheap as possible we will continue to get tat all over the place.

        Obviously there are exceptions to the above, not everyone things that way, but I’m afraid that an awful lot of people do.

        The USSR stole massive amounts from the west during the cold war. In the early 1980s (maybe late 1970s) there was a small village just over the Hungarian border in Austria that had 3 electronics shops and pretty much nothing else. Why? I worked with someone in Hungary that told me why. As students in Hungary they all used to make money by driving across the border to that village, buying electronic components (transistors, integrated circuits etc) and driving them back into Hungary to sell to government labs that were cloning all sorts of western hardware (e.g. DEC VAX 11-780 computers) copied component by component and they needed to get the components. A nice little earner for the students.

  4. Glad to see BAE have been working with the Chinese to produce this! If they didn’t collaborate with the Chinese on Taranis Im sure its just a happy coincidence this looks eerily similar to Taranis.

    • BAE would sell to anyone if they could. That’s why several nations have Typhoon. And that’s why they are now trying to get funding to develop Tempest because to stay ahead we need something better. Of course we will have to sell Tempest to everybody to pay for it like we have done with the F35 and then we will have to spend another Earth paying for a better Tempest to keep ahead. It’s all about jobs really isn’t it?

      • Tim, Typhoon Is a Multi Nation Collaboration, Several Nations Have It because It’s what they wanted. F35 Is also a Multi Nation Project with the UK having a 15% share. Tempest Might well be the next UK Fighter but Time will tell. Jobs are good.
        I can’t be bothered to go any further.

  5. Crazy. I thought they where still trying to develop smokeless jet engines? Maybe the airframe and fly-by-wire software is easier to steel but regardless their R&D budget will be over 10 times larger than the UK and won’t be long before they have over 100 ready to patrol the South China sea

  6. I dunno … the video seems to be a strange mix of extremely low resolution, very limited “flight” footage and poor CGI. I doubt Chinese TV snapped a scoop and put it on public display without authorization so why such poor quality? And why so limited? Its almost like they are copying production values from recent Russian advanced technology video propaganda, probably something best not used as a role model.

    I’m not saying the Chinese couldn’t develop something like this, at least as a flying concept, based either on stealing the technology or developing it themselves. After all the West in the form of USA, France and the UK have been flying similar craft for 5-8 years. The West should not be complacent.

    However, the video of the take off looks a lot like a much smaller radio controlled model taking off to me. The way the undercarriage “bounces” on the runway and the way the aircraft seems to almost “pop into the air” at take off suggests a much lighter aircraft than a 35 foot wingspan aircraft would be likely to weigh. Take a look at some of the larger RC aircraft videos on YT shot at creative angles and they seem like the real thing too.

  7. What I don’t understand is why we allow them to steal secrets through hacking. We know they are doing it yet still put sensitive information on networks they can reach. Surely we can ring fence systems or am I being too simplistic?

  8. Couple of things I have taken from this

    1. The Chinese are right – the next conflict really will be highly contested.
    2. Taranis is a great product and the UK should pursue it.
    3. We need to order a large volume (200+) of these at hopefully circa £15m each.

    As I have said previously on UKDJ. We should be using these from the carriers with F35B’s in a stand off position controlling them onto target, also do what the US are doing and make some into tankers. That gets us out of the V22 discussion as well.

    Taranis/Magma should be our deep strike capability, replacing tornado but managed by F35’s or ground crew.

    Lastly, if we actually got our act together – we could sell these as a force multiplier to all other F35 customers, but we wont.

  9. Agree with Paceman’s post above- if the Taranis UAV is combat capable and deployable as a first strike capability it is surely going to be a better proposition then sending in a F35B manned aircraft in the first wave or high-risk deep penetration package.
    The worry is that the Chinese have reversed engineered the Taranis UAV so easily and could mass produce this UAV in thousands and thousands at a fraction of the cost we would produce it and pay exorbitant BAE prices.

  10. If you examine the commercial market for drones, China has overwhelming market share that is generating billions in revenues. This dominance provides the Chinese military a way into military drone development. Yes, technology theft is a huge issue generally but in this area, not so much.

  11. I don’t think the Sky Hawk is a copy of the Taranis, but more a development of the RQ-170 Sentinel that was supposedly hacked by Iran. Iran have tried to reverse engineer the drone, but I can guarantee both Russia and China would have paid through the nose for access to the UAV, as at the time it was one of the stealthiest aircraft about. Much like Russia acquired parts of the shot down F117 over Serbia, China would have bought parts of the aircraft or had direct access. I would suspect that they would face serious problems trying to replicate the RAM material and the processes needed to construct it. So it probably won’t be as stealthy as the Sentinel or Taranis.

    Regarding the Taranis, we will at some point need to base the aircraft in the UK which brings a plethora of operational problems especially trying to integrate them within regulated and non regulated airspace. This is one of the problems being faced with the Watchkeeper program – how to make sure it de-conflicts with other aircraft. A lot of the larger aircraft will have an advanced Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) fitted, but a lot of the smaller aircraft such as gliders have a very basic system fitted which just transmits a “I am here” signal, not a heading, speed or x,y,z location. More precise data for aircraft that are nearby is required to make sure either the UAVs limited AI can avoid then move back on task, but also to give sufficient information to the remote pilot if required. As the UK is geographically quite small and has a crowded airspace it will be very difficult for us to operate these aircraft here, unless operated over the sea or in austere locations such as over the Scottish Islands. I could predict that these would be initially based in the US, Australia or even Africa.

    The Taranis is about the size of a Hawk aircraft which in T45 guise is used by the USN and USMC for pilot training on carriers. The QE class has a sufficiently long flight deck for conventional landing and recovery, but would need the additional installation of arrestor wires and an emergency barrier. I am not aware of the Taranis’s power to weight ratio so am unsure if it has the oomph when loaded to take-off via the ramp. It would need major airframe modifications to incorporate some form of STOVL, so basically a new aircraft would required.

    The USAF are looking at developing the dedicated wingman strategy. This is where a piloted aircraft is teamed with a UAV. The UAV would operate as a bomb truck for the manned aircraft, but also as a sensor node where stealthy objects could be better tracked through sensor triangulation. I can guarantee that the RAF/FAA in the future will also operate in a similar fashion as it will double up the capability and more importantly availability.

    • Good point re Sentinel.

      That UAV in the photo looks far smaller than Taranis.

      I wonder if the US ever got to the bottom of that, how the UAV was downed, and, being stealthy, how they even detected it.

      There is also the tail end of the stealthy Blackhawk crashed in Bin Laden’s compound.

      Using your secret stuff over other territories come with its own risks.

      No wonder I read some even more secret stuff flying over Nevada never leaves home, they would have to bomb the other country into the Stone Age to protect the technology.

  12. Teranis Is a Concept demonstrator though, It’s never going to be produced as such . At one point, It was described as the most Technically Advanced and complicated Military project the UK had undertaken. (Or words to that effect) I believe other developments include non moving flying control surfaces ( or whatever It’s called ) and I also believe that Tempest will benefit from this Project. At the moment we are working with France to Co Develop a joint Effort. ( until they pull out ) Keeping our ability to Design such Technically Advanced systems Is the really Important bit though.

  13. China has made great strides over the last 20 years in R&D, that we can all agree on. The Americans and Europeans may soon be the ones to “copy” China’s high tech weaponry in the years ahead. The Sky Hawk may look like a clone from Europe or America, but the drone may be very different under the skin. The proof of the pudding will be in sales to the rest of the world, time will tell.


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