Drone Envy

In an article today (mostly behind a paywall) the Sunday Times tries to stir up a tempest by implying that the ChiComs are challenging the U.S. supremacy in drone warfare by building a drone that is faster than the American MQ-1 Predator.
China builds fast to trigger drone race with America

While the Times is technically correct, it overlooks some pretty obvious points.

First, the Air Force Is Through With Predator Drones.

Second, the Air Force is transitioning to MQ-9 Reapers.

So if you want to compare the Chinese drone with the MQ-9 on paper, it is no contest.  It can cruise at 193mph, and carry "Up to 14 AGM-114 Hellfire air to ground missiles can be carried or four Hellfire missiles and two 500 lb".   While the BZK-005 can fly unarmed for 40 hours, the MQ-9 can fly 42 hours with external fuel tanks and a thousand pounds of munitions.  If it were to fly unarmed, the MQ-9 would fly even longer.

While it is always fun to compare capabilities, and here the MQ-9 is the better comparison than it's little brother, the simple fact is there are many different types of drones, designed for different types of missions. Some are faster, some fly higher, some carry more, some are more stealthy.  But it is useless to make comparisons in a vacuum, unless you are comparing similar mission profiles.

Yes, Chinese drones are coming, and they will be capable.  But if you want to make comparisons, at least choose a peer competitor.

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