New image of China’s first weaponized stealth drone emerges (as US launched its own one from an aircraft carrier) May 15, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : China, Drones , add a comment
Few hours before the U.S. Navy launched the the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator off the deck of an aircraft carrier for the first time, a new clear side image of Lijian (“sharp sword”), China’s first weaponized stealth drone has emerged from the Chinese Internet.
Image credit: Chinese Internet via Alert5
The drone is quite interesting, as it features the characteristic dark paint (most probably RAM – Radar Absorbing Material), a large frontal air intake, a “normal” landing gear (as opposed to the reinforced one of the X-47B, needed to absorb the shock of the heavy landing on a flattop) and sports the code “001″ that denotes the first aircraft of such type.
Noteworthy is also a sort of false canopy (like the one some combat planes have got on the underside, directly underneath the front of the plane to confuse an enemy so he does not know in what direction the aircraft is headed/turning), seemingly painted on the UCAV to give planes flying in the vicinity of the drone, the idea a pilot could be sitted inside it.
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Coming from the Chinese Internet, the following image shows the Lijian (“sharp sword”), China’s first weaponized stealth drone.
via Secretprojects.co.uk/Danger Room
According to Duowei News, the drone is ready for its maiden flight after completing its taxi tests in December last year.
Chinese Internet via China Times
H/T to Al Clark for the heads-up
Bomber incident: two Nuclear-armed Russian Tu-95s reportedly skirt U.S. military base at Guam February 16, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Military Aviation , 7comments
According to the Washington Free Beacon website two Russian Tu-95 Bear-H strategic bombers circled Guam island, in the Pacific Ocean, on Feb. 12.
“Defense officials said the bombers tracked over Guam were likely equipped with six Kh-55 or Kh-55SM cruise missiles that can hit targets up to 1,800 miles away with either a high-explosive warhead or a 200-kiloton nuclear warhead,” reports Bill Gertz in his piece.
The episode happened shortly before President Obama delivered his State of the Union address and prompted U.S. to scramble some Kadena F-15s temporary deployed to Andersen Air Force Base.
The Eagles shadowed the two Russian bombers until they left the the area in a northbound direction.
Andersen AFB, on Guam, is strategically located 1,800 miles (about 2,900 km) to the east of China.
It has hosted a deployed strategic bomber force since 2004; recently, the Air Force has announced it will base two B-2 Spirit bombers in the Pacific atoll.
Although this kind of incident is not frequent, this is not the first time Russian strategic bombers conduct a long range training sorties into the south Pacific. And circumnavigate Guam.
In 2007, President Vladimir Putin said Russia had resumed the long-range flights of its strategic bombers that had been suspended in 1992. According to Putin, those tours of duty would be conducted regularly and on strategic scale.
On Aug. 8, 2007 two Tu-95 undertook a 13-hour round trip from Blagoveshchensk base to “visit” Guam for the first time since the end of the Cold War.
Guam is among the key strategic U.S. military installations in the Pacific theater; a base that is pivotal to the Air Sea Battle Concept strategy designed to counter China’s military power in a region characterized by territorial disputes.
Image of a past interception. Credit: U.S. Air Force
“Russia not selling Tu-22M Backfire bombers to China” Russia’s state arms export corporation says January 25, 2013Posted by David Cenciotti in : Military Aviation , 3comments
It looks like the news that China had just bought the entire Tu-22M3 Backfire bomber production line was unfounded.
According to the ITAR-TASS News Agency, the Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state arms export corporation denied any negotiations with China on the Backfire bombers.
Reports about the upcoming supply to China of Tu-22 strategic bombers is pure “newspaper’s duck”, Rosoboronexport spokesman Vyacheslav Davidenko said.
Usually, the Russian state intermediary agency for military import/export doesn’t comment news other than that published on official media outlets. However, they felt the need to deny the news of the Backfire sale since the aircraft is a strategic asset that, as such, can’t be sold to foreign countries.
Image credit: Alex Beltyukov
As written in the first article on the topic, it was the third time in recent years that Chinese websites and Russian media outlet had given the news that Russia was about to sell China what needed to build 36 long-range swing wing attack planes to counter the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea.
Once again, it was just speculation.
Nevertheless, the U.S. Navy must remain vigilant: the Chinese already have their own strategic plane, the Xian H-6K, a license-built version of the Soviet Tu-16 Badger capable to carry up to six cruise missiles.
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In November 2012, the U.S. Air Forced announced a series of worldwide training deployments to to each of the US combatant command’s areas of responsibility of the stealthy B-2 Spirit bombers.
The “World Spirit Tour”, as the deployment was dubbed by the Air Force Magazine, will bring the first two radar evading planes from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, to the Pacific theater.
Destination: Andersen Air Force Base.
Strategically located 1,800 miles (about 2,900 km) to the east of China, Andersen has hosted a deployed strategic bomber force since 2004.
Even if the B-52s and B-1s are regularly deployed there, the B-2s were pulled out ot the rotations to Guam in 2010 (when up to six Spirits were temporary stationed there), after a serious engine fire earlier that year and the loss of another example in a 2008 crash.
With the deployment of the Spirit bombers once again to the Pacific atoll and, probably in the near future, in Australia, where the Air Force has announced “future rotational deployments” of its batwing bombers, the U.S. reaffirms the focus on a region where China’s military power is causing concern to Washington and its local allies, some of those dealing with territorial disputes.
Image source: U.S. Air Force
Although they have proved to be able to conduct no-stop round trip strike missions from Whiteman AFB during the Allied Force in Kosovo in 1999 and, more recently, in Libya, during the 2011′s Air War, the Spirit stealth bombers must be able to operate from forward operating bases across the world.
First of all in the Asia-Pacific region, and then in Central and South America, Southwest Asia, and Europe, where there are no permanently assiged bombers.
It must be remembered that the B-2 is the only platform capable to deliver the Massive Ordnance Penetrator 30,000lb bomb. Capable to destroy bunkers in Syria, Iran. Or North Korea, not far from Guam either…