That’s at least one conclusion that can be drawn from a recently published photothat appears to show a full-scale mock up of China’s Dark Sword unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV). The photo shows nearly twenty individuals— likely engineers at the Aviation Industry Corporation of China’s (AVIC) Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute, which is designing the plane— standing in front of the model. If so, it is the first full-scale mock up to be seen in the public domain.
The existence of the Dark Sword drone dates at least as far back as a 2006 air show in China where concepts of the plane were first shown.
Its development has proceeded mostly in secret, making it hard to determine how much progress has been made or even, at various times, whether development was still occuring. The new image suggests that China has made decent progress on the drone, although it is still impossible to determine how much or whether the Chinese military will even ever purchase the plane.