The Lijian is described as the world's third stealth combat drone by the Chinese tabloid Global Times. (Internet photo)
A newly designed Chinese stealth drone is ready for its first flight test after completing its taxi test last December at an unknown airfield in the southeastern province of Jiangxi, reports Duowei News, an outlet operated by overseas Chinese.
Designed jointly by the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group and Shenyang Aviation Corporation, the Lijian ("sharp sword") is China's first stealth drone and the third in the world after the X-47 designed by Northrop Grumman of the United States and France's Dassault nEUROn. The Lijian program was launched in 2009 and the drone's ground test was conducted on Dec. 13 last year.
China Aviation News reports that the Lijian is now ready for flight testing. The drone is set to be used by the PLA Air Force and Navy Air Force for combat missions, and also for tracking and reconnaissance purposes.
The prototype means China is ahead of several nations in the development of stealth drones, including Britain. Russia, India, Sweden, Italy, Iran and Israel, which also have their own stealth unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programs.