China’s Hypersonic UAV Outpaces US and Russia, Potentially New Strategic Weapon

Recent reports in China’s hypersonic weapons sector reveal that a new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles has passed wind tunnel tests. The MD-22 model, dubbed as a strategic unmanned aerial vehicle, was showcased at the Zhuhai Air Show. Analysts point out that the MD-22 can reach speeds of up to Mach 7, surpassing the speed of the US “son of Blackbird” SR-72, and boasting superior parameters compared to Russia’s S-70 Hunter drone. After overcoming various technical challenges, it is poised to enter the actual construction phase and is expected to debut officially soon.

The model of the hypersonic unmanned aerial vehicle MD-22 appeared at the Zhuhai Air Show in China, designed with a flying speed of Mach 7, a payload of 600 kilograms, and a range of 8000 kilometers, demonstrating the potential to become a new type of strategic weapon. (Tencent News)

According to a military analysis article published by Tencent News, although the MD-22 has not been officially announced, data revealed so far suggests it will outclass similar weapons from the US and Russia. The model was showcased at the Zhuhai Air Show in China, boasting a flying speed of Mach 7, a payload of 600 kilograms, and a range of 8000 kilometers. This implies intercontinental strike capability, unlike China’s existing Rainbow-5 drone or the US MQ-9 Reaper reconnaissance drone, both of which have ranges exceeding 10,000 kilometers but lack the speed of Mach 7. Russia’s S-70 Hunter drone, designed with stealth features, can only achieve subsonic speeds of up to 1000 kilometers per hour.

The article notes that the highly anticipated US “son of Blackbird” SR-72 hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft is estimated to reach speeds of around Mach 6, still lower than the Mach 7 speed of the MD-22 unmanned aerial vehicle. This unmanned aerial vehicle, which combines hypersonic speed with intercontinental range, can be considered China’s strategic version of such technology. If its 600-kilogram payload can be increased to 1 ton or more, it may even be equipped with nuclear weapons, serving as an alternative option for nuclear strikes.

Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, the volatile international situation has provided opportunities for many new weapons to emerge, with unmanned aerial vehicles receiving significant attention from various countries. For example, the Houthi armed forces’ attacks on US fleets in the Red Sea and Ukraine’s use of drones to target Russian refineries have demonstrated the significant impact of inexpensive drones.

An artist’s rendition of the Lockheed Martin-developed “son of Blackbird,” the SR-72. (Lockheed Martin)

The future development of unmanned aerial vehicles holds unlimited possibilities, particularly once they enter the realm of hypersonic speed, where they can play a greater strategic role. Currently, China’s hypersonic technology remains ahead of the US. There are rumors that the US military might shift its focus towards developing hypersonic reconnaissance aircraft for intelligence missions, as the long-awaited SR-72 has not disclosed any recent progress. Meanwhile, China has already deployed multiple types of hypersonic weapons, including the DF-17.

With hypersonic technology maturing rapidly, China’s MD-22 hypersonic unmanned aerial vehicle once again leads ahead of the United States. Chinese scientists have overcome challenges such as lift-to-drag ratio, heat protection, and stability in hypersonic unmanned aerial vehicles. The focus is now expected to shift towards reducing costs and improving reliability, transitioning from the design phase to actual construction, possibly making its official debut in the near future.

Source link