Is China Building its Own ‘Area 51’ to ‘Merge’ Drones, AI and Sixth-Generation Combat Aircraft?

Amid a race by countries to rapidly enhance the unmanned capabilities of their air forces to produce next-generation advanced combat aircraft, a former nuclear test range in a remote corner of China’s Xinjiang province has been intriguing experts in the field.

A big, remote and mysterious area of land in China has triggered fresh speculations that Beijing may have set up its equivalent of the American “Area 51”, where it is working on developing unmanned military aircraft.

The original ‘Area 51’ is a classified United States Air Force (USAF) facility located within the Nevada Test and Training Range and commonly thought to support the development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.

The War Zone cited obtained satellite imagery from Planet Labs dated June 1 ostensibly showing China’s similarly secretive test base near Malan in Xinjiang province. The Lop Nur nuclear test facility was established in 1959, with some 45 nuclear tests reportedly conducted in this desert wasteland before it ceased operations in 1996.

The outlet claims to have spotted an array of People’s Liberation’s Army Air Force drone prototypes, with a manned J-16 Flanker fighter on the runway. While displays of unmanned aircraft at the site are not new, it was the intermixing of unmanned aircraft with a manned aircraft l that caught the attention of those perusing the images.

The publication suggested that an AI infusion program may be underway. Other countries have reportedly…

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