Category Archives: China

New image of China’s first weaponized stealth drone emerges (as US launched its own one from an aircraft carrier)

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.

A coincidence?

Lijian clear

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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This is the first clear image of China’s new Stealth killer drone

Coming from the Chinese Internet, the following image shows the Lijian (“sharp sword”), China’s first weaponized stealth drone.

Sharp-Sword

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.

Designed jointly by the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group and Shenyang Aviation Corporation, the Lijian is quite similar to both the U.S. X-47B and the European nEUROn.

Lijian

Chinese Internet via China Times

H/T to Al Clark for the heads-up

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China’s new stealth fighter’s missile launch rails prove Beijing can improve U.S. technology

In order to preserve their stealthiness and keep the RCS (Radar Cross Section) as low as possible, radar-evading planes rely on weapons bay: bombs and missiles to be fired are kept inside the bays until it’s time to use them.

For instance, the F-35 can carry one AIM-120D (AIM-120C8), on a trapeze : when needed, the BVR (Beyond Visual Range) missile is lowered into the airstream on the open bomb bay door, and ejected.

F-22 Raptors use canted trapeze to put the AIM-9 Sidewinder seeker into the airstream to achieve a lock on the target as the side bay doors are open.

Raptor

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Once the missile is fired, the bay doors close up.

Obviously, such method requires the stealth plane to fly with the open bay doors for a certain amount of time, a condition that can limit the aircraft performance, maneuverability, and increases the overall plane’s RCS, with a temporary exposure of the aircraft to the enemy radars.

Something that can be quite lethal in a Within Visual Range scenario.

The problem is to be partly solved with the use of missiles featuring the Lock On After Launch capability. With this kind of missile (available on the Raptor when the AIM-9M will be replaced by the AIM-9X Block II) the bay doors remain open just the time it is needed to eject the missile into the airstream.

However, China might have found a clever solution to the problem, as the latest images of the J-20 Mighty Dragon stealth fighter jet, emerging from the Chinese Internet, seem to suggest.

J-20 2002 side bay maybe - out mod 2

Indeed, the second prototype of the aircraft features a missile deployment device on the side weapons bay which extracts the selected air-to-air missile and then closes the door to keep the reduced RCS.

J-20 missile deployment device

Simpler and probably cheaper than the use of LOAL missiles, the J-20’s deployment device shows that Chinese engineers are not simply copying U.S. tech: if not improving it, they are at least troubleshooting some of the issues already faced by their American counterparts, with some clever ideas.

Missile launch rail

Graphs from Chinese forums

The missile launch rail was used to carry the PL-10 IR air-to-air missile during tests.

Anyway, it’s worth noticing that along with AIM-9X missiles, the F-22 pilots will receive Scorpion HMCS (Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems) that will be particularly useful in case of dogfight. There are no information about similar helmets being fielded to Chinese fighter planes.

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[Video] China’s brand new military airlifter makes first flight

Coded 20001, China’s large military transport aircraft designed Y-20 made its first flight from Yanliang flight test center on Jan. 26.

Based on the CCTV footage, the brand new turbojet, a hybrid between the U.S. C-17, the Airbus A400M Atlas four-engine turboprop, and the nose section the Antonov An-70 performed a short test flight with the extended landing gear, before landing back.

Y-20 ff

Image credit: goneless via Alert5

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New photos of Chinese Soaring Dragon High Altitude Long Endurance drone emerge

New images of China’s Xianglong or Soaring Dragon unmanned aerial drone were released on the Chinese internet.

Showing the drone from both sides and from the rear, the photos would be the newest of the top secret project.

Although the images are dated Jan. 13 that could be the date the photos were first uploaded to the various defense forums and websites. Still, they show an aircraft that seems flight ready although there are no reports of it having made its first flight which was thought to have been planned for 2009.

Richard Clements for TheAviationist.com

Drone-3

Image credit: Chinese Internet

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