Which One's the Knock-Off Killing Machine?

By Chris Mills on at

There's all sorta knockoff crap that you can get from China nowadays: watches, clothes, and things that look vaguely like iPhones. Looks like the cloning factories are turning to a more sinister purpose, however, with China unveiling a new fleet of drones that look suspiciously similar to their American counterparts. Real question is, will Apple be able to sue them?

Revealed at China's International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, "China's" Wing Loong UAV (pictured left) looks a hell of a lot like the American MQ-9 Reaper (on the right), which anyone who frequents the Afghanistan/Pakistan border will doubtless be familiar with. It's not just the UAV they've ripped off, either; the ground control cabin again bears a startling resemblance to the American version (though I think they might've removed the bespoke doughnut holder).

Like all Chinese knockoffs, the Wing Loong undercuts the full-fat version on price, at around £600,000, while a Reaper will run even your most influential oligarch a cool £20 million. That pricetag does come with some trade-offs though; fewer weapons and less endurance than the Reaper, so if you're planning a mass-murder maybe don't go placing your orders just yet.

It all goes to show, though, that China's becoming ever better at copying America's biggest and baddest toys; guess we'd all better watch out for a sky flooded with cheap Chinese drones -- I don't want one falling on my head. [Defence News via Wired]

Image credit: David Cenciotti and US Air Force