CHINA has unveiled a new military drone capable of carrying grenade launchers and a guided missile system.
The craft was seen in footage released by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV taking part in a series of recent combat exercises in southern China.
The exercise was reportedly part of drills carried out by the People’s Liberation Army.
The craft is thought to have been produced by aviation manufacturer Harwar, which is based in Shenzhen on China’s southern coast.
The firm, which focuses on building drones with “special equipment”, showed off the model at a drone expo in the city that took place last month.
The model is reportedly named “Zhanfu H16-V12”, the first part of which translates to English as “War Axe”.
The manufacturer claims the device can reach heights of over 5,800m, fly at 40mph, and lift loads of up to 25kg.
It also says it can fly in winds of 38mph and function in temperatures as low as -40C and as high as 85C.
The craft is thought to be equipped to fire guided munitions and take part in operations including reconnaissance and mid-air interceptions.
The exercise shown in the CCTV footage was reportedly staged in the Yunnan province, which forms part of China’s border with India.
The footage comes amid heightened diplomatic tensions between China and a number Western powers, particularly the US.
Recent years have seen the two countries engage in a trade war and in a longstanding tussle over control of the South China Sea.
Beijing has also faced criticism from the international community over its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang, its encroachment into Hong Kong, and its handling of the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last year saw China’s military spend reach an estimated $261million (£202billion).
The figure is still well below the US’s estimated military spend of around $720billion (£556billion), but experts say the coming years could see China’s military capability outstrips that of the US.
Speaking previously, David Ochmanek, a researcher who has been involved with simulating possible conflicts between the US and China for 15 years, said: “Let’s say it was 2005.
“If we were to run a scenario for 2010, Chinese capabilities weren’t fully mature, and what you would see was a stand-off, not a clear-cut victory or defeat for either side.
“But still there were surprising numbers of casualties and losses to the United States. The lethality of Chinese forces was growing dramatically.
“As we advance the clock forward, and start to look at the balance in 2020, 2025, 2030, typically we were finding clear-cut victories for China.”