A Chinese drone manufacturer claims to have created a stealth bomber that rivals the US Air Force's B-21 Raider, which is currently in development.
Zhongtian Feilong Intelligent Technology (ZFIT) has claimed the unmanned aircraft, called Feilong-2, could be used for precision strikes on key assets such as enemy command centres, military airstrips and aircraft carriers, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
The company also says the drone could be used with swarm drones for reconnaissance and surveillance.
Related: When will the B-21 stealth bomber be officially revealed?
The completed prototype closely matches Northrop Grumman's B-21 Raider in terms of speed, attack range, payload and stealth, while also being cheaper to make and more durable.
ZFIT claims the aircraft's features mean the US Air Force's B-21 "has already fallen behind, even before it enters service," SCMP reported. The drone has an internal payload capacity of 6 tonnes and an operating range of 4,350 miles and it can be flown at an altitude of 49,000ft.
The Chinese drone comes close to Northrop Grumman’s B-21 Raider in terms of speed, attack range, payload and stealth capabilities – but Zhongtian Feilong claims its unmanned aircraft is cheaper to produce and is expected to last longer.
The B-21 Raider is a new stealth aircraft being developed to replace the US Air Force’s aging bomber fleet.
Designed to be long-range, highly survivable and capable of carrying a mix of conventional and nuclear ordinance, the B-21 will join the US nuclear triad as flexible nuclear deterrent.
The bomber, developed and manufactured by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, California, has been given a new schedule by the US Air Force.
Related: US Air Force reveals more on B-21 Raider stealth bomber
The aircraft was originally meant to fly as early as December 2021, according to USAF, but a new schedule means it will not have its first flight until 2022.
Aviation Week reports the new schedule still implies a factory rollout of the next generation bomber in the second half of 2021.