Chinese State media reported on Friday that the military had carried out the first test flight of a newly developed stealth Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) — a move that places China among an elite group of nations with stealth “drones”.

Photographs posted on websites linked with official media websites showed the “Sharp Sword” delta-wing UAV taking off from a test centre in southwest China.

“The successful flight shows the nation has again narrowed the air-power disparity between itself and Western nations,” the China Daily reported, adding that only the U.S., France and the U.K. were “capable of putting a stealth drone into the sky”.

“The drone can be used for reconnaissance and an air-to-ground strike, but more importantly, it has a huge potential for aircraft carriers,” Wang Ya’nan of the Aerospace Knowledge magazine, was quoted as saying.

“I think the size and technological capability of the Sharp Sword make it a suitable choice for the navy if it is to select an unmanned combat platform for its aircraft carrier.”

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