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Chinese CH-4 Drone  (Source: Want ChinaTimes)

MQ-9 Reaper Drone  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Chinese defense companies copy the US

The Chinese military establishment has long copied military hardware from other parts of the world, including the U.S. Some Chinese military drones have been seen at China's Zhuhai air show in model form.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation built the CH-4 and it’s clear that the U.S. Reaper drone heavily influenced its design. The CH-4 has a claimed endurance of 30 hours and can travel nearly 2,000 miles at altitudes of up to 5 miles.
Another drone on display is built by Chengdu Aircraft Design is called the Wing Loong, and it also resembles the Reaper according to reports.

Of all the military drones on display at the air show, however, Defense News reports that the Wing Loong garnered the most attention. That drone reportedly has export deals in the works and the static display at the show features four hard points for weapons (laser-guided bombs, air-to-ground missiles, etc).

Another weapon on display, the Bateleur, was said to be a copy of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey and is capable of vertical takeoff and landing. However, simply copying the V-22 Osprey would be a difficult endeavor, as that highly complex aircraft has been plagued with numerous problems during its lifetime.
This isn’t the first time that mimicry has struck Chinese aircraft design. China’s J-20 stealth fighter looks suspiciously similar to Northrop-Grumman and Lockheed Martin stealth fighter designs.

Source: Defense News

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By DigitalFreak on 11/27/2012 10:01:30 AM , Rating: 5
The Chinese have never been able to innovate. They just steal from everyone else and create knockoffs.

RE: Knockoff
By Camikazi on 11/27/2012 10:13:12 AM , Rating: 2
Well they used to be serious innovators thousands of years ago but they lost that ability long ago.

RE: Knockoff
By dsx724 on 11/27/2012 10:45:17 AM , Rating: 1
Most innovators around the world are in the US for various reasons. Most of our innovations are by foreign scientists and engineers anyway. In the last 100 years in China, it's relatively dangerous to innovate. However, that situation is quickly reversing.

RE: Knockoff
By Mitch101 on 11/27/2012 12:31:08 PM , Rating: 5
The R&D is the majority of the cost of nearly anything so if someone else has solved the majority of issues in design why not copy it? There is a ton of reasons probably behind how and why the drone was designed the way it is so copying a successful design is actually smart.

Whats sad is if their copy works better than the original.

RE: Knockoff
By WinstonSmith on 11/28/2012 9:26:28 AM , Rating: 2
"copying a successful design is actually smart"

It is. Another example of a really obvious copy was the Soviet Buran, a copy of the Space Shuttle.

RE: Knockoff
By Mitch101 on 11/29/2012 2:56:52 PM , Rating: 2
Thats actually the first thing that came to mind when I saw china did this. China copied the Soviets.

RE: Knockoff
By Nortel on 11/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: Knockoff
By headbox on 11/27/2012 2:23:10 PM , Rating: 5
Two completely unrelated statements. Good job.

RE: Knockoff
By bupkus on 11/27/2012 4:03:58 PM , Rating: 1
Agreed, even if these two paragraphs are separated by a blank line.
Maybe you'd be okay with it if he had used bullets.

RE: Knockoff
By GulWestfale on 11/27/12, Rating: 0
RE: Knockoff
By FaaR on 11/27/2012 6:41:29 PM , Rating: 2
The point of the article is american self-reinforcing chest-thumping and patriotism, in difficult economic times where the nation's impression of itself as a world-leading empire is wavering.

...That tools that perform the same functions tend to look similar or identical is not something that the author - or most commenters - want to dwell on. Better to simply assume without any actual evidence that the designs for these aircraft were ripped-off wholesale.

RE: Knockoff
By Solandri on 11/27/2012 10:53:17 PM , Rating: 3
all drones look like US drones, because they all fly through the same air and thus are subject to the same laws of aerodynamics. thus a boeing looks like an airbus, which looks like a mcdonnell douglas, which looks like a tupolev, which looks like a caravelle, which looks like a... you get my point.

That's only true at high mach numbers, where aerodynamic forces dominate. At the slow speeds these drones travel, you can make practically anything fly.

There are some aspects which will be similar (e.g. glider-like wing aspect ratio for maximization of endurance). But the choice of a bulbous payload dome in front, butterfly tail, and pusher prop are all optional design elements. It's a pretty strong indication their hackers managed to get blueprints for this particular drone.

RE: Knockoff
By Pessimism on 11/29/2012 9:10:11 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Knockoff
By Jeffk464 on 11/27/2012 11:18:15 PM , Rating: 2
The blended body is suppose to be the most efficient aerodynamically. So if you were going strictly by aerodynamics this would be the shape you would see. The fact is that China is absolutely doing complete copies of other air frames, check out the J-15 its basically a part by part copy.

RE: Knockoff
By BZDTemp on 11/28/2012 12:40:55 PM , Rating: 2
Most innovators around the world are in the US for various reasons.

I much doubt that. You got any data to back that up?

RE: Knockoff
By hankw on 11/27/12, Rating: -1
RE: Knockoff
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2012 1:08:36 PM , Rating: 4
Please provide an objective, positive article on the benefits of the Chinese stealing our technology. Obviously China benefits. They got free technology through illegal and illicit means.

RE: Knockoff
By hankw on 11/27/2012 1:16:26 PM , Rating: 1
What? That's not what I meant. I meant that western news would only report things that are negative. If there were Chinese innovations you probably wouldn't hear about it anyways.

RE: Knockoff
By hankw on 11/27/2012 9:17:48 PM , Rating: 2
This site is hilarious getting down voted simply for having a minority opinion while some guy making an obviously false claim gets a 5. :)

RE: Knockoff
By inperfectdarkness on 11/28/2012 2:09:57 AM , Rating: 2
To be fair, the world media SHOULD only report negative thigns about China, since China only allows positive spin about itself to eminate from within its own borders.

RE: Knockoff
By Strunf on 11/28/2012 9:29:46 AM , Rating: 2
"They got free technology through illegal and illicit means."
You're telling me the US doesn't steal someone else technology too?...

RE: Knockoff
By SigmundEXactos on 11/27/2012 10:17:35 AM , Rating: 1
Oh yes, they have "never" paper, gunpowder, the compass, and the printing press.


And Boeing just copies Airbus! And the US "copied" several parts of the Mig25 design for the F15!

Or how about there are only so many ways to make aerodynamic bodies with long hovering times? This one does have a stronger resemblance, but just copying the rough external shape doesn't buy you much. You still have to run the same set of complex simulations to determine the *exact* shape to both allow and optimize flight, which is basically almost as much work as working from scratch. The only thing copying helps you do (unless you have an intact copy to play with) is to seed your start point.

Personally I'm comforted that the Chinese are still copying US designs -- it means there will still be work for us. What you really should be dreading is the day they stop copying and really start innovating. What will you do then?

RE: Knockoff
By Shadowself on 11/27/2012 10:41:33 AM , Rating: 2
And the US "copied" several parts of the Mig25 [sic] design for the F15!

Excuse me? What sane person would ever claim this?

I read the reports back in '76 (when they were still classified) about the MIG 25 that surprised a LOT of people -- like a significant fraction of the MIG 25 was made out of stainless steel, the radar bay was huge, but the radar was still tube based and thus very weak and had very poor functionality even for its day, the engines were the only truly interesting (or leading edge) thing in the entire craft, etc., etc.

Other than an extremely general profile, there was virtually nothing the same between the MIG 25 and the F15.

Before the 1976 defection and the U.S. getting its hands on a fully functional MIG 25 (which Japan gave back) there were many outlandish theories of the abilities of the MIG 25. Those drove the design capabilities of both the F15 and F16 in the early to mid 70s. However, neither were anywhere near copies of the Foxbat.

RE: Knockoff
By sorry dog on 11/27/2012 11:59:24 AM , Rating: 2
Actually the Mig 25 radar has a considerable amount of energy output. The use of vacuum tubes made it more resilient to fallout and easier to service in the field....the downside is higher maintenance and much greater weight. Also, it was not really a lookdown radar.

As for copying...the Mig mosts likely took some cues from the A-5 Vigilante such as the wedge shaped intakes and ramps to control shock waves in front of the compressor faces.

RE: Knockoff
By Jeffk464 on 11/27/2012 11:22:56 PM , Rating: 2
The mig 25 was never designed to be a fighter. It was designed to take off and get to a high altitude and speed extremely fast. It was designed specifically to hit the high speed high altitude bomber we were developing. It would have done this job extremely well by the way. Stainless steal was used to cope with the high temps it would experience reaching these speeds. Its failure was that it was designed for a mission that was never needed.

RE: Knockoff
By Jeffk464 on 11/27/2012 11:25:56 PM , Rating: 2
I think he was talking about the wing shape and the twin vertical stabs, placement of the engines, its all pretty similar. By the way the push for the f15 was to come with an answer to the mig25, which I think at the time we didn't really know its performance characteristics.

RE: Knockoff
By WinstonSmith on 11/28/2012 9:23:28 AM , Rating: 2
"The use of vacuum tubes made it more resilient to fallout"

No, to EMP. But that was just a claim by our military industrial complex that took apart the one flown to us by a defector. That claim was to prevent too much derision and realization in our country about the extent to which our DoD had incorrectly made the Soviets look 10 feet tall when they were not since solid state devices can also be protected against EMP.

"It was designed specifically to hit the high speed high altitude bomber we were developing."

Yes, that was the XB-70, an amazing, technologically ground breaking aircraft.

"Stainless steal was used to cope with the high temps it would experience reaching these speeds."

But the big surprise was their use of very heavy steel instead of magnesium which the Soviets had been touted as expert users of.

RE: Knockoff
By inperfectdarkness on 11/28/2012 2:22:28 AM , Rating: 2
"...still be work for us"?

Ok, let me break this down for you. Defense spending is directly tied to R&D, which is (in turn) directly tied with how advanced our weapons systems are (relative to our counterparts). If we are hemorrhaging technology to our counterparts (read enemies and potential enemies) left and right, we end up having to spend money on defense at an increasingly faster rate in order to try and keep any "edge" over our said entities.

To be fair, a technological edge isn't always required for victory. However, lack thereof is most often associate with overwhelming superiority of numbers (we have < 1/3 of China's population), and/or a willingness to accept tremendous amounts of casualties (which is certainly not the case, seeing as how averse we have become to the almost insignifant body-count of the past 11 years, compared to the body counts of Vietnam, WWII, or especially the US Civil War).

Therefore, not only is the military being told to do more with less (as has been the case since at least WWII) but it is also being told that it has less and less room for friendly casualties at the same time.

Bleeding out our military technology secrets to the Chinese isn't just a fringe effect, our technological advantage is THE last remaining advantage we truly have to bring to bear. Once we lose that, there will be no such thing as a "guaranteed" victory, no will there be adequate defense against foreign aggression on domestic US soil.

RE: Knockoff
By DrApop on 11/27/2012 10:33:35 AM , Rating: 2
And our UAV looks a lot like the old Israeli UAV, just updated.

There are only so many ways to build a plane.

Knock off or not, the Chinese go full bore into the things they do and accomplish a lot in a short period of time. They are moving quickly into the 21st century while our US military contractors can't even get an oxygen hose from crimping, making our pilots pass out, crash, and burn. Or add in any of the other hundreds of military contracts that go belly up because they can't do what they said they could do when the bid on the contracts in the first place.

RE: Knockoff
By gamerk2 on 11/27/2012 11:24:12 AM , Rating: 2
Contractors bid to win the contract, first and foremost. They figure out how to meet the price after the fact. If the Federal government wants that to stop, then they have to make an example out of programs that go overbudget.

Oh, wait, the JSF is popular? Oh, you want that new radar system? Oh well. *Gives more money at a black hole*

RE: Knockoff
By fic2 on 11/27/2012 12:42:29 PM , Rating: 3
Small correction - they have figured out they don't have to meet the price because the military an politicians will just hand them a bag of money anyway.

RE: Knockoff
By sorry dog on 11/27/2012 1:42:02 PM , Rating: 5
It's always the contractor's fault right...

Gov't program manager 1: "The program committee has determined that we now need the plane to be able to carry B61 special weapons on the outer pylons in addition to the inner pylons, to increase mission capability to 4 separate nuclear targets. How will this affect the program goals?"

Contractor: "Sure, it's possible, but we will have to redesign the wing spar, skin, flaps, hydraulics, wiring, software, add 200 pounds to the aircraft, and we'll have to change the assembly tooling. That will probably take us 4 months and cost 200 million.

Program manager 1: "Since this meets program criteria, I have pre-approval for this change order to commence immediately."

.....3 Months Later.....

Government program manager #2: "We need to address the escalating weight of the aircraft. The aircraft is estimated to be 300 pounds over weight the goal since program committee determined 50 rounds was not adequate for the gun and we had to add another 250 rounds. The sub-committee has reviewed program features that we can streamline to reduce weight to meet goals, and they want to know if we can delete the option for additional B61 special weapons capability on outer pylons?"

Contractor: "Sure, we estimate it will save 200 pounds. But we will have to redesign the wing spar, skin, flaps, wiring,hydraulics, software, and we'll have to change the assembly tooling. That will take us about 3 months and cost 200 million plus the retrofit costs to the preproduction models.

Gov't Program Manager 2: "Sounds great, I have pre-approval for the change order to delete the B61 option. Also, the committee would also like a study on the weight saved by deleting the backup oxygen system.

Contractor:"By the way, what happened to Program Manager #1?"

Gov't Program Manager 2: "He was promoted to the Project team that is implementing ERM software for the Air Force to save money on all future project management....
...oh and by the way I'm at 20 years next month, so I'll be retiring and you should meet your new Program Manager in 3 or 4 months."

RE: Knockoff
By knutjb on 11/27/2012 7:41:52 PM , Rating: 2
Don't forget one of my favorites:

...the guys in the research lab did this thing yesterday and we want to add it to the jet, yeah I know we are at the 90% design phase and that equipment has been set in stone for two months but this new discovery sounds really promising...So what if production begins next month we'll just write up a design change order and work out the extra costs later at the final pre-production meeting.

It is sad how few people get how many cost over-runs are more likely than not tied to the government bureaucrats than the contractors. Yes, I know contractors have been stupid too but it all starts with the program managers in the government. After all its not their money...

RE: Knockoff
By andrewaggb on 11/27/2012 11:18:55 AM , Rating: 2
They really do steal designs. There have been high profile hacks of NASA, Lockheed Martin, etc.

eg Lookup the Lockheed Martin Attack for 2011, likely done by the same group that hacked RSA. No proof it's China, but regardless, once stolen, I'm sure they'll sell to whoever wants them.

In 15-20 years when China is caught up (or almost caught up), we'll see some real innovation out of them I'm sure. There's plenty of smart people in the world.

RE: Knockoff
By Rookierookie on 11/27/2012 11:52:20 AM , Rating: 1
I'm pretty certain they stole the Wright brothers' idea of building powered heavier-than-air flying machines.

RE: Knockoff
By RedemptionAD on 11/27/2012 12:45:59 PM , Rating: 3
Innovation is expensive. Wait and replicate is cheap.
On the plus side, at least we know we have something worth someone going through the trouble to replicate.

"If they're going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else," -Jeff Raikes -Microsoft Business Group President.

RE: Knockoff
By boeush on 11/27/2012 4:09:16 PM , Rating: 2
To innovate, one must first attain a solid grasp for the current state of the art. By imitating, China is learning and building up domestic supply chains and expertise. Once they have the foundations taken care of, they will then proceed to take over the world markets for the formerly Western designs, just as they have been doing in virtually all other areas of manufacturing.

By the way, it is exactly the same strategy and industrial/tech development trajectory as were undertaken by Japan, Korea, Taiwan, etc. back in their respective early days.

RE: Knockoff
By funguseater on 11/27/2012 4:10:12 PM , Rating: 4
The US stole Nazi tech/research/scientists last century and propelled itself to the forefront of weapons research, is it really a surprise that EVERY other country does this as well. All research/tech is built on the shoulders of those that came before. The fact that the Chinese have caught up (maybe even advanced) so fast is frightening.


RE: Knockoff
By knutjb on 11/27/2012 8:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
The US stole Nazi tech/research/scientists last century and propelled itself to the forefront of weapons research, is it really a surprise that EVERY other country does this as well. All research/tech is built on the shoulders of those that came before. The fact that the Chinese have caught up (maybe even advanced) so fast is frightening.
That is a rather twisting of history into a bizarre analogy. First the Germans had lost the war and many of them had a choice play with the Americans or the Russians, duh... Spoils of war and that is much different than your analogy implies.

We evaluated their ideas, some were amazing, Me-262, some sucked and were discarded but we didn't just copy and paste. You never saw us just throw a Mercury capsule on a V2. The Chinese are simply stealing designs by copy paste. I know an engineer who drew up an equipment design and encountered a Chinese copy that included her personal design mark in the copied product before the US based manufacturer had even replied with an estimate. Maybe you will be lucky enough to avoid Chinese counterfeit drugs that were copied and cheapened with unsuitable by-products or not happen to fly on an aircraft with falsely recertified or counterfeit parts. It is a far more serious problem than this article even digs into.

The Russians stole a number of design ideas from the Concorde and implemented them as is and it cost them. The Brits figured out the French were leaking information so the Brits doctored it up a little. The Tu-144 was in many was a better aircraft after they worked past the bad info they stole. NASA used it for some high-speed research and was amazed at some design features.

RE: Knockoff
By Solandri on 11/27/2012 11:02:34 PM , Rating: 2
On the topic of Russians copying American planes, the Tu-4 (clone of the B-29) is a pretty good read.

RE: Knockoff
By Jeffk464 on 11/27/2012 11:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
We didn't have to copy the V2 we got Wernher von Braun. He was involved with nasa rocket design all the way up to and including the engines on the shuttle.

RE: Knockoff
By BZDTemp on 11/28/2012 12:46:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, and it is clever strategy. When you're as big as China you can make your own rules and by copying it helps them catch up to western standards in record time.

At some time the Chinese will turn more into doing their own R&D and in many areas we are already seeing copying as well as R&D.

By lifewatcher on 11/27/2012 9:56:06 AM , Rating: 3
All these military patents should be handed over to Apple. They know how to harass the hell out of any offender :)

RE: Aww...
By FITCamaro on 11/27/2012 9:57:50 AM , Rating: 2
Except the Chinese government just jails or kills you if you question it.

RE: Aww...
By Asetha on 11/27/2012 11:34:36 AM , Rating: 2
Precisely the point.

RE: Aww...
By theapparition on 11/27/2012 10:13:33 AM , Rating: 2
Pretty sure Apple would just hand over to Chinese manufactures anyway, just so they could make a few more dollars.

RE: Aww...
By arazok on 11/27/2012 10:44:12 AM , Rating: 5
Chinese Gov: “Hey! That secret UAV you sold us crashes all the time”
Apple: “Your flying it wrong”

RE: Aww...
By RedemptionAD on 11/27/2012 12:35:23 PM , Rating: 2
To do business in China you must do 2 things. 1. Have a business there. and 2. Give IP of said business to Chinese government, kind of like our patent system in the USA, except there are no real protections granted by the Chinese method.

RE: Aww...
By sorry dog on 11/27/2012 1:57:58 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot one important thing to do business in China....

You MUST have a chinese bag man to handle all of the "permits" and supplier "negotiations" you need to do business over there.

RE: Aww...
By ritualm on 11/27/2012 10:56:55 PM , Rating: 2
Won't make any difference. You must pass information through a third party, and that party does not know - never mind care about - the true meaning of "confidentiality".

Take a leaf from iApple
By Any14Tee on 11/28/2012 6:45:40 AM , Rating: 2
Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Made in China
By dsquare86 on 11/28/2012 8:11:23 PM , Rating: 2
Means that it only cost 10 USD to build and lands in a landfill where it belongs. Had to say it.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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