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.

    • ike

      Really? We do lots of preliminary testing? I doubt it.

      the Chinese have exact copies of our system? Really? Name one.

    • EW3

      Ike is right.
      It may look superficially like a X-47 but it also needs engines, control systems and a few other things like a satcom and GPS system to support it. This is for internal consumption only.

      • mpower6428

        I hope you’re right, I really do.

    • Big-Dean

      and the USSR never copied (or stold) our stuff either, come on guys, wake up and smell the coffee

      The Chinese do this for a living, look at the entire fake industry over there, everything from Rolex, to bicycles to drugs, it’s massive. They steal, duplicate and make copies of everything.

    • steve

      Only proves the Chinese have a direct access to all or most of Our Military secrets…Guess those that are supplying them with Our Military secrets are enjoying a rich life??? Nothing like a good old traitor is there???? And we still think ALL of our naturalized citizen love Our Country…..what a joke….just like Our WIDE-OPEN BORDERS!!!!! and now wide-open naturalization programs “no” really good back ground checks?????

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • rtsy

      Couldn’t agree more. A lot of the talk here is USA #1, but in many ways China has already shifted to the lead in many areas and we here in the US are doing everything we can to cover that up, largely through financial and institutional manipulation.

      The overall size of our military and the dollars status as the reserve currency are our main leverage points, and we are in danger of losing both those advantages if we don’t get our act together.

      • oblatt2

        On my way to china I always swing through the US and its pretty obvious that America has given up. You see nobody trying to compete with the Chinese. Nobody even trying to learn the language of what will be the worlds largest economy.

        We have already seen what happens when we are faced with an external economic threat - we cower. Japan only had a population one third of ours and yet it captured most of the electronics, automotive and appliance markets.
        With China its going to be much worse. At three times the size, China is simply going to dominate.

        Economists have a term for the American dilemma they call it being sandwiched. Caught above the smaller more nibble and better educated countries and the crushing weight of China, the economy stagnates and goes into reverse.

        One just has to look at where people vote with their money. In the last 5 years as part of quantitative easing you could get practically free money. And everyone I know who took it, invested it in China. They didn’t build infrastructure or invest in companies in America because it has no future.

    • freeamerica

      Is that real? Are you sticking to these comments or are you being sarcastic? Cities that outclass American cities? Maybe Detroit, but barely. First of all when you say Americans you are talking about almost 400 million people. I am quite sure we all don’t all think alike. Now it sounds as if you are a little bitter, is that because its cold up there or is it because your military is basically our “inferior” equipment? Do you have any idea of how bad their roads are and how dangerous they are? You obviously do not. Do you have any idea of how crappy their cities are? Your ignorance is almost bad enough to not deserve a response.

      • CanadianEh!

        One question…have you been to China? I have, and I have been to the US and many other countries. While the US of A is tearing up roads and leaving them as gravel tops because of lack of funding, China is outpacing the US of A ten fold. It’s not a joke and when you say someone is ignorant or bitter, maybe it’s better to have a more factual statement about Canada’s climate or military power. Just because it’s not as big as yours doesn’t mean we don’t know how to make better use of it. In this case, size does not matter! Thanks for proving my point…next time don’t get your argument from FOX news.

        • IKnowIT

          Yeah, we are ripping up roads and leaving them as gravel. Troll. Go read my other posts

        • David

          I know immigrants from China your tour of the nice TOURIST areas does not qualify you as an expert on the subject.

        • CanadianEh!

          See, this is why no one respects you. Can’t make a valid point so you regress back to a 2 year old.

        • BigDeeM

          Well I have to disagree our country has put considerable funding in our road and bridge infrastructure. I know this because I travel the nation. We are tearing up our roads but we are improving them. You must have been here for a short while and made a judgment on your first impression. What most people in other countries are not aware of is that our economy is improving and we are recovering despite our childish leaders inability to lead this country. One thing the strikes me odd is that no one wants to admit that everyone copies off of everyone.

      • Mike

        LMFAO YEEEAAAAAAH, out classed American cities. Any country who uses slave labor can achieve anything it wants to at the cost of human lives. Look at the Olypics- If it werent for using American naval Aircrew as hostiges they wouldnt have been able to get it. And now look at the “Birds Nest” rusting away. All shiny things fade when you try to copy what other countries legitametly engineer and cultivate as a people. At the end of the day- China is nothing but a bunch of farmers and peasants pretending to be Americans. Enjoy.

    • ROBERT

      Well the canadien speaks, who cares that you been to China you seee only what they want you to see.. There cities are so full of pollution you cant even walk around without masks on some days. ..there economy will be bigger than the USA one day but there per cqpita income will not, they are still basicly poor, they have a grouth of over 8 % but when ur at rock bottom there no place to go but up. There society isnt free as your or mine There COMMUNIST.. the people have no freedom of expression,..nothing that can compare it to us…We do have some issues here,, unethical congress,, bloated milatary industrial complex.( that canadian companies are in on too) We spend money all over the world protecting one country or another(CANADA) and to read your comment with ur disdain for the USA it just confirms my feeling that we should just let the rest of you assholes rot.

      • BigDeeM

        There not also understanding there there are over 1.2 billion people in china and that the extreme vast majority of there population is dirt poor. Ther GDP is about 13 trillion with 1.2 billion, and the U.S.A. is 15.68 Trillion with a population of 313.9 million. Not to mention that the U.S.A. is recovering much faster than expected.

      • Filipino

        The thing is, he’s not Canadian but a Chinese troll hiding in western nickname or nicknames

    • Paul
    • Brad

      I have been to China, my family lived there for 2 years working for an American energy company. Everything in China is superficial, much like this drone. It looks ok on the outside, but then it collapses, doesn’t work right, wears out too soon, breaks, etc. As a Canadian you should be happy that your country is allied with a country that prides itself on getting the job done right, and not just on appearances.

      Have YOU ever been to China? If so you would know what I’m saying is true. What I just said is applicable to everything in China. From the schools that collapsed in that earthquake 6 years ago, to the shirts that I have from there that don’t fit quite right because they were made cheaply by unskilled laborers that sewed size small sleeves onto a size large torso.

      China does not have a stronger economy, maybe you should read the news every one in a while. I find it quite sad you go to a defense industry site to moan about how much you hate the U.S. If you love China so much, maybe you should move there and get yourself some shirts that don’t fit.

    • David

      Actually you are quite wrong. Between pollution and over development in some areas they aren’t doing so great. And the development is generally limited to coastal areas. You’re wrong on so many levels. China is a deck of cards which is already becoming very unstable politically, culturally, environmentally, and economically.

    • Navy Seal 9009

      Maybe your country can build it own versions of F-18, C-17, C-130, but I doubt it. If it wasn’t for the United States protecting YOU, you would be speaking Russian.

  • greg

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

  • King
  • King

    Idiots!!!! Russian copy pffff

    • pleuris

      you’re right…I recognised it also as a copy of the Skat UAV.

  • 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?

    • Patrick

      Look up Ghost Net. They stole the plans and much much more.

    • Navy Seal 9009

      They steal it by hacking into our “Secured Government Computer Systems”

  • 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

    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?

  • 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???

  • 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?

  • wtpworrier

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

  • 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
  • @RioFalcon

    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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