Cheaper Chinese military drones are chipping away at U.S. and Israeli domination of the industry, fuelling a new race as companies predict a rise in demand especially in regions such as Asia, Reuters reports.
Chinese cut-rate versions of American armed drones like the MQ-9 Reaper have begun showing up in smaller African, Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries, signaling the country’s ambitions to take market share from incumbents such as General Atomics Aeronautical Systems and Israel Aerospace Industries.
At the Singapore Airshow here, state contractor China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation (CATIC) showed off two versions of its Wing Loong reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial system (UAS). It was the drone's first public appearance in Southeast Asia, according to trade media, and the booth drew military personnel from countries such as Myanmar and Malaysia.
These Chinese drones cost about $5 million versus up to $100 million for a U.S.-made system, making them especially attractive to less affluent militaries, said Ben Moores, a senior analyst for defense and aviation at Jane’s by IHS Markit.
CATIC, a unit of Chinese state giant Aviation Industry Corporation of China, declined multiple requests for interviews at the airshow held this week.
In February last year, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said that the country’s domestically developed military drones had won their largest ever overseas order from an undisclosed buyer, boosting the Chinese arms industry’s efforts to increase export volumes.