Chinese UAV & UCAV development


Errys

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American Submarines Are in the Crosshairs of China

China will deploy a force of aerial drones to stalk American submarines in the Western Pacific.

by Lyle J. Goldstein
Nov 17, 2019

China has been steadily improving its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capabilities to cope with a perceived, major asymmetry in undersea warfare capabilities. Additionally, when Beijing began filling out its navy with major surface combatants, including aircraft carriers, cruisers and now large amphibious attack ships, there has been a rather visible and understandable uptick in Chinese attempts to protect these new investments from submarine attack.

Some of these developments in Chinese ASW over the last decade have included building a formidable force of light frigates that are equipped with towed sonar arrays, fielding a vertically launched “rocket torpedo” as a standard weapon in its fleet, deploying a new maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) that is optimized for ASW and developing ocean bottom sensor networks in and around its key naval bases. Some coming attractions in this area will include a new generation of Chinese ASW helicopters (both Z-18 and Z-20), as well as a system of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) that will perform various missions, including especially surveillance and laying sea-mines, at least at the outset.

Now, a new threat to the dominance of the U.S. submarine force in the Western Pacific lies over the horizon. A series of recent articles published in China implies that the PLA Navy is hard at work on developing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that will take up the ASW mission. That could eventually pose a major problem for the undersea forces of the United States and also for the forces of its allies.

One article, published in the Chinese journal Fire Control & Command [火力与指挥控制] in mid-July, is a collaborative research project between the Naval Command College in Nanjing and the Naval Aeronautical University in Yantai. The research focuses on the potential for UAVs to support an MPA in the “cooperative use of sono-buoys for the purposes of conducting a submarine search.” The article explains that sono-buoys are one of the main tools for hunting submarines, especially over a large sea area. These authors project that “Given the wide array of possibilities to employ UAVs, it’s quite possible that they will play a large role in the future of anti-submarine warfare [随着无人机的广泛运用在未来反潜作战中很可能发挥重要角色].”

This analysis begins by discussing various advantages and disadvantages of manned MPAs for ASW, such as the U.S. Navy’s vaunted P-8 Poseidon. Not only can that aircraft carry 120 sono-buoys, but it is capable of monitoring 60 of these buoys simultaneously, according to this Chinese rendering. Such aircraft are capable of “independent” missions against submarines, as they can conduct search, track, and attack functions. However, there is a fly in the ointment, of course, and this analysis emphasizes that such lumbering aircraft themselves have minimal self-defense capability and thus “may very easily become targets of attack [很容易被作为攻击目标]” by enemy interceptors. Another problem is that the length of the missions can be exceedingly taxing for the crews, so that the overall submarine search efficiency of the aircraft may decrease.

The argument is made in this Chinese analysis that unmanned aircraft can be of considerable assistance in such circumstances. It is said that UAVs frequently fly for more than forty hours but are capable of flights that last over days or even weeks. While generally not fast moving, they are still considerably faster than surface ships that are also employed for the ASW mission. It is projected, moreover, that they may sometimes be able to fly over air defenses. But the biggest selling point for UAVs in this role is that they are so much cheaper than both submarine-hunting large MPAs, and quite obviously also their quarry, the submarines. In other words, such economical approaches to the undersea rivalry in the Western Pacific could put Beijing on the right end of a “cost-imposition” strategy. This Chinese analysis, moreover, implies that unmanned aircraft need not accomplish all aspects of the ASW mission. They could play the reasonably simple role of information relay platforms. They could also help to reduce the complexity of the daunting tasks that currently confront MPA crews. Of course, they could also take greater risks by entering “situations of contested airspace [敌空中威胁情况].” Lower costs, naturally enough, also mean that many airframes, coordinating together, could be deployed for any given search operation. Mathematical modeling of ASW operations in this piece yields the conclusion that UAVs do significantly increase the efficiency of submarine hunting.

A second article, from a late 2018 edition of Chinese Journal of Ship Research [中国舰船研究], endeavors to explore the “search/attack submarine integration [搜攻潜一体化]” functions of a fixed-wing UAV for ASW by studying the issue of optimizing payloads. This author, from the Jiangsu Automation Research Institute, asserts that “all navies are reforming ASW models.” He contends that there is an “urgent need for greater range, larger search areas, longer search periods, as well as cheaper methods of sensing, detection, tracking, and prosecuting submarines.” The paper discusses some foreign designs, including the U.S military’s MQ-9 UAV.

Owing mostly to the cost issue, this analysis also holds that UAVs for ASW have “obvious advantages” over manned aircraft. Interestingly, this Chinese study asserts that “weaponization is the basic trend for fixed-wing unmanned ASW aircraft [武器化是固定翼反潜无人机的基本特点].” But the most remarkable part of this particular discussion is the recognition that these UAVs might well operate from Chinese aircraft carriers. That is a rather bold call given that China has yet to demonstrate success in operating UAVs from aircraft carriers, but it does neatly illustrate Beijing’s priority on protecting its new capital ships, as noted in this paper’s introduction. Reviewing sample flight profiles, this analysis sees an ASW UAV that is capable of a patrol radius of six hundred kilometers for its land-based variant and perhaps three hundred kilometers for its carrier-based variant.

The above articles offer a glimpse of yet more coming attractions from the Chinese Navy. Indeed, the naval air arm of the PLA Navy is now starting to make rapid progress in line with its subsurface and surface forces. This news is quite disturbing as it fits a developing pattern of Beijing employing its new prowess in artificial intelligence to solve difficult battlefield dilemmas. What’s still more troubling is that if Chinese missiles and aircraft succeed in destroying U.S. and allied airbases in the Western Pacific during the initial phase of any military contingency, whether over Taiwan or the South China Sea, that might well leave myriad Chinese drone aircraft the freedom to roam and aggressively stalk previously nearly invulnerable American submarines.

Source: National Interest “American Submarines Are in the Crosshairs of China”
 

Errys

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By Liu Xuanzun. Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/10 18:22:00


Chinese armored vehicles and a drone swarm conduct utilization training. Photo: Screenshot from cctv.com

China has successfully tested a new combat system that integrates armored vehicles and drone swarms, Chinese media reported on Wednesday. This technology will allow armored troops to acquire more battlefield information and launch deadly attacks, analysts said on Thursday.

The integrated drone swarm-armored vehicle combat system made its public debut in a statement recently released by its developer, a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), reported Weihutang, a China Central Television program on military affairs, on Wednesday.

In May, an undisclosed unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a series of utilization training with this system, which was successful, Weihutang reported, citing the CASIC statement.

Drone swarm technology is an important trend, as mass-produced drones are of low cost, can cover a wide area, and are flexible and expendable, the report said.

Citing a plan released by the US Department of Defense in 2018, Weihutang said that the US is aiming to use drone swarms to cover ground troops by engaging in reconnaissance, close-range aerial support and communications relay, adding that China has also been studying similar approaches, and has tested a swarm of 67 drones in 2016.

A Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday that it is normal for militaries around the world to test similar technologies, given its potential to give them an advantage. By releasing an interconnected drone swarm, the armored vehicle on the ground can understand the battlefield situation much faster than using only a single drone, not to mention lowering the risk of casualties compared with sending human troops.

Drones can also be armed or launch suicide attacks, which will give the commanding vehicle a very deadly way to attack, the expert said, noting that the swarm means there would be many coordinated drones at their disposal, and it would be very difficult to intercept all of them.
 

Hendrik_2000

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Here is the write up on the PLA utilizing drone to supply front line troop with ration
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PLA Tibet military command adopts drones for logistics support in drills amid China-India border clash
By Zhang Hui Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/11 9:46:06
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00:00:00 / 01:01



The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Tibet Military Command recently adopted UAVs — or drones — to provide logistics support for its troops that are currently stationed at an elevation of 4,500 meters completing exercise drills, with some military analysts believing the decision to employ such innovative technologies showcases the PLA’s new modernized logistics support means while also exhibiting that China is prepared for potential conflict while engaging in negotiations with India.

In a video released by China Central Television, PLA logistics soldiers were seen transporting hot food with ground vehicles. In locations where the road was blocked, however, they packed the food, water and medicine, before putting them into several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that automatically delivered the “care packages” to front-line soldiers.

The drills explored new logistics support modes by combining both ground and aerial means. Such logistics support could be vital if the PLA soldiers were forced to engage in military conflict.

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Friday that logistics such as those on display in the drill are key for soldiers’ performance in military conflicts, and logistics support can be very difficult in complex plateau areas.

As such, they would require multiple methods to provide support including UAVs and other aviation equipment.

Drones can be employed to quickly make delivery at designated points, improving the PLA’s combat effectiveness, Song said.

The video also showed that China is preparing for further potential military conflicts while continuing to engage in military and diplomatic negotiations with India, Song said.

The use of UAVs is an important embodiment of future unmanned warfare. UAVs can provide assistance in both combat missions and logistics support, and the PLA has shown its desire to take advantage of the drones to prepare for future military conflict, Song said.
 

Bltizo

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Appears to be a stealthy drone for strike purposes.
Well it's a flying wing drone with stealthy properties.

I don't think we see anything on it that suggests it has or hasn't got a strike capability -- for all we know it could be primarily a recce UAV.
 

by78

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Anyone with an idea what type of or concept of UAV/UCAV this is?

(Image via @航空工业气动院 from Weixin)

View attachment 63419
Probably a subsonic surveillance drone with strike capabilities. May have high-endurance so as to persist over a hostile area to reconnoiter, make opportunistic strikes, and designate targets for other assets. I wonder if that nozzle is round (i.e. not optimized for stealth) or if that's part of the test fixture.
 

free_6ix9ine

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By Liu Xuanzun. Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/10 18:22:00


Chinese armored vehicles and a drone swarm conduct utilization training. Photo: Screenshot from cctv.com

China has successfully tested a new combat system that integrates armored vehicles and drone swarms, Chinese media reported on Wednesday. This technology will allow armored troops to acquire more battlefield information and launch deadly attacks, analysts said on Thursday.

The integrated drone swarm-armored vehicle combat system made its public debut in a statement recently released by its developer, a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), reported Weihutang, a China Central Television program on military affairs, on Wednesday.

In May, an undisclosed unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) conducted a series of utilization training with this system, which was successful, Weihutang reported, citing the CASIC statement.

Drone swarm technology is an important trend, as mass-produced drones are of low cost, can cover a wide area, and are flexible and expendable, the report said.

Citing a plan released by the US Department of Defense in 2018, Weihutang said that the US is aiming to use drone swarms to cover ground troops by engaging in reconnaissance, close-range aerial support and communications relay, adding that China has also been studying similar approaches, and has tested a swarm of 67 drones in 2016.

A Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Thursday that it is normal for militaries around the world to test similar technologies, given its potential to give them an advantage. By releasing an interconnected drone swarm, the armored vehicle on the ground can understand the battlefield situation much faster than using only a single drone, not to mention lowering the risk of casualties compared with sending human troops.

Drones can also be armed or launch suicide attacks, which will give the commanding vehicle a very deadly way to attack, the expert said, noting that the swarm means there would be many coordinated drones at their disposal, and it would be very difficult to intercept all of them.
Further reinforces the point that unmanned platforms are the future of warfare. Sixth generation fighters should be unmanned air to air UCAVs.
 

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