(Nov. 19) -- Among the unusual drones on display this week at an air show in China is an unmanned aircraft designed to induce rain. The really odd part, according to a trade journal reporter who spotted the drone, is that the allegedly commercial aircraft looks suspiciously stealth-like.
"The design suggests a low-observable, tactical or medium-altitude long endurance capability," wrote Aviation Week & Space Technology's Robert Wall. "The reality is, at least so the manufacturer would have us believe, that the vehicle-launched system is intended solely to dispense material that can help cause rain."
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China's J-10 fighter jets perform Wednesday during Airshow China 2010 in Zhuhai, China.
The international air show held this week at Zhuhai, in China's Guangdong Province, has featured a record number of companies exhibiting aircraft and aviation technology. Aviation Week has pointed out Chinese concepts for a new stealth fighter, a folding drone that can shift shapes and even a possible military space plane.
But it's the drones that are catching people's attention.
In fact, the air show featured more than 25 types of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, according to The Wall Street Journal. The paper called it "a record number for a country that unveiled its first concept UAVs at the same air show only four years ago, and put a handful on display at the last one in 2008."
Sponsored Links China appears to be catching up quick, at least based on the displays at the air show. Indeed, aerospace writers following the show have pointed out a wide number of new UAVs, including concepts for an unmanned helicopter and other vertical takeoff drone designs.
China even has it own answer to the U.S.-built armed Predator, called the Pterodactyl, which can carry weapons under its wings. "Pakistan may have been a target customer, but the Avic system appears to have lost out to another rival," Aviation Week reports.
One aircraft concept that caught the attention of reporters was a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft -- China's answer to the United States' developmental F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. A model of the aircraft, which was on display at the show, appears to incorporate some aspects of stealth technology.