China exported military drones worth hundreds of millions of dollars to over 10 countries, state-run media said Thursday. The Asian powerhouse also plans to sell unmanned aircraft capable of launching laser-guided bombs.
Chinese drones “have bigger payloads, which means they can carry more weapons” than their rivals, Shi Wen, chief drone designer at the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, told the China Daily newspaper. Shi did not name the countries that bought the drones, the numbers of drones sold or the exact deal value, but said that the academy’s most valuable sale was worth “hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.”
The report added that the drones are named Cai Hong, which means rainbow. CH-3 is a popular model, capable of firing missiles at a distance of six miles from its target and flying for over 10 hours. The academy is also planning to get an export license for the new CH-5, which made its first test flight last August, and can launch air-to-surface missiles and laser-guided bombs, Shi said.
China has become the third-largest exporter of arms in the world, ahead of France and Germany, with its exports rising 88 percent in the 2011-2015 period, compared to the previous five years, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. SIPRI said Chinese weapons were mainly bought by other Asian countries, and named Pakistan as the biggest buyer.