During a video showing the training of R80D drone pilots, it was possible to see two Chinese planes… on a Marine Corps military airfield in North Carolina. These “planes” are in reality replicas, allowing training as close as possible to real conditions.
Two Chinese planes
On September 13, 2023, the United States Marine Corps (USMC) published a video concerning the training of R80D drone pilots. The latter were training in flight preparation and in-flight handling of this small reconnaissance drone at the Bogue auxiliary airfield (North Carolina, United States). In the presentation video, it is possible to see a 1/1 scale representation of a J-7 training aircraft and a J-20 combat aircraft in the colors of the Chinese Air Force. These planes are obviously not capable of flying because they are 1/1 scale models. In 2018, the J-20 had already appeared in images and the Marine Corps Training and Education Command (TECOM) responded in a press release:
“The initial model of the plane identified was a J-20 fighter jet being developed as a proof of concept, with a plan to develop additional air and ground threats in the future.”
Satellite images also show that the aircraft has been present (outside at least) at this aerodrome since March 12, 2019 (image below). On the other hand, no trace of the J-7 is perceptible. This is likely a new addition or a recent transfer from another US base. These two replicas thus allow the training of tactical drone pilots but also at higher altitudes: they allow recognition of non-American aircraft as part of a training mission. The goal is very simple; get as close as possible to the conditions of a real reconnaissance mission, for example, over the waters of the South China Sea.