• Drones could be used to smuggle banned items into prison, officials said.

Drones could be used to smuggle banned items into prison, officials said. (Photo : Getty Images)

More countries are expressing their interest to purchase drones from China as these unmanned aerial vehicles become ubiquitous. But while made-in-China UAVs rise to popularity among hobbyists, another market seems to be in high demand as well: the military.

In 2015, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.'s CH-5 combat and reconnaissance drone made its first flight, told News18.

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The military drone, part of the CH drone series, can carry 3,000 kg to 3,300 kg in-flight and has a maximum cruise speed of 220 kph. It is said to be the "heaviest and strongest military drone in China."

Regulatory approval for the CH-5 is in the works.

China Daily reported that there is a growing demand for these "powerful and affordable" CH drones from foreign countries.

Among the five models included in the series, the CH-3 variant remains the bestseller, said Shi Wen in an exclusive interview with China Daily. Shi is the chief drone designer for the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, which is under the corporation.

The group's CH drone series has been sold to 20 military users from more than 10 foreign countries," AsiaOne reported. The line is also the "largest military drone family that China has exported."

In an interview with China Daily, Shi said that the total value of contracts the group inked in 2015 "could definitely be one of the highest in terms of armed drone deals made last year on the international market."

Shi did not divulge the exact figures.

China is increasingly becoming a sweet spot for drone manufacturing. DJI, also one of the world's most popular drone makers, is based in China. However, the company is more known for its commercial UAVs.

The use of drones in the military is a rising trend. In the U.S., military forces are mulling over the use of drones for its squads, the Army Times reported.

But unlike the CH drones, these flying machines are pocket-sized that could help the army survey an area within a shorter span of time.