Chinese UAV & UCAV development


Abominable

Senior Member
Registered Member
Again, it's all relative.

Detecting and intercepting a 5m wingspan drone flying at 50m altitude is many many times more difficult than intercepting a 12m wingspan drone operating at 5.5km altitude.
Not sure why you're repeating this, I've already said smaller is better. If anything my argument is they should go even smaller.

That point only stands if you are solely relying on ground based radar and conventional SAMs. A lot of the drones taken down were by MANPADs, and even small arms fire.

Low altitude drones are far more suseptable to low altitude drone attacks, especially they have a loud piston engine which will alert anyone 500m away.
 

Abominable

Senior Member
Registered Member
Nearly all the long range S-300PMU systems in Russia were changed to S-400. The shorter/mid range S-300PS systems still have not been all replaced with the S-350 because its introduction was severely delayed and it only entered mass production a couple years ago. S-350 can quad pack short range missiles which makes it more effective vs drones than S-400. S-400 isn't meant to engage targets at short distances. At most you could use the S-400 to strike something like a Global Hawk. Then you have systems like the mid range Buk-M3 which only recently entered production and are available in only small numbers. But if we are talking about countering drones like TB-2 or Reaper then you are talking about the shorter range systems like the Tor or Pantsir. There are several versions of those. The latest ones are only available in limited numbers. Latest versions are pretty sophisticated. For example latest Pantsir has improved two-face phased array radar and missiles. Latest Tor can carry larger amount of missiles. I find it funny that you call Russia's air defenses "less than modern". Compared with what? Certainly not anything fielded by NATO.
Yeah, I found that statement strange as well. If Russia doesn't have a modern air defence, who does?
 

Blitzo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
We've seen the recent fixed wing VTOL drones off CV-17. We've seen many helicopter like VTOL drones. There are tiltrotor drones and even quadcopter drones. I'm really curious how many different types they will end up employing.

Those VTOL drones we saw off Shandong were almost certainly not being tested for their actual performance, but likely to experiment with the carrier's capability to control multiple UAVs themselves (datalinks, control consoles etc).

We need to be cognizant that as UAV technologies are advancing, nations will carry out smaller scale UAV demonstrations in cost effective manners as they work up to true, operationally useful UAV capabilities.


Those VTOL drones on Shandong were too small and too suboptimized to be worthwhile deploying off an aircraft carrier.


I believe that the first VTOL drone that the PLAN will properly procure as an operational type will be that MQ-8C sized helicopter drone we saw on the 075. It's equipped with an EO suite and a surface search radar and probably can achieve an endurance and range similar to MQ-8C.
It would make a sensible UAV for surface combatants and as part of the airwing of a 075.




Right, that's the scenario I'm think about. There are some degraded military bases along first island chain or even southern Kyushu. Could be anywhere from 650 km to 900 km away from mainland. Aside from utilizing PLAAF sorties with PGMs, what else could they do to keep these bases offline? Seems like low flying, small RCS killer drones is another choice now. I don't know if Harpy have the endurance to make it that far and attack the appropriate targets.

Low flying, small RCS suicide drones are just cruise missiles.

Really, the Mugin 5 strike that Ukraine did, doesn't show us anything new which the world didn't already know.




Not sure why you're repeating this, I've already said smaller is better. If anything my argument is they should go even smaller.

That point only stands if you are solely relying on ground based radar and conventional SAMs. A lot of the drones taken down were by MANPADs, and even small arms fire.

Low altitude drones are far more suseptable to low altitude drone attacks, especially they have a loud piston engine which will alert anyone 500m away.

Because in your last few posts 5387 and 5385, it seemed to be implying that a Mugin 5 drone should have been something that Russia could have defended against in the same way they have been subsequently orient their air defenses to defend against TB-2s.

I'm saying that a combination of a much lower altitude flight on a strike profile (i.e.: going directly towards a target rather than orbiting/loitering in a ISR or hunter killer strike mission that a TB-2 would do), and its smaller RCS, significantly complicates defenses, and is one which would require significant resources to defend against after the suicide drone has already been launched... and it's better to view the Mugin 5 suicide drone strike as "defending against a cruise missile" rather than "defending against a MALE UAV".



Nearly all the long range S-300PMU systems in Russia were changed to S-400. The shorter/mid range S-300PS systems still have not been all replaced with the S-350 because its introduction was severely delayed and it only entered mass production a couple years ago. S-350 can quad pack short range missiles which makes it more effective vs drones than S-400. S-400 isn't meant to engage targets at short distances. At most you could use the S-400 to strike something like a Global Hawk. Then you have systems like the mid range Buk-M3 which only recently entered production and are available in only small numbers. But if we are talking about countering drones like TB-2 or Reaper then you are talking about the shorter range systems like the Tor or Pantsir. There are several versions of those. The latest ones are only available in limited numbers. Latest versions are pretty sophisticated. For example latest Pantsir has improved two-face phased array radar and missiles. Latest Tor can carry larger amount of missiles. I find it funny that you call Russia's air defenses "less than modern". Compared with what? Certainly not anything fielded by NATO.

Compared to the total orbat of Russia's air defense billets.
FWIW, NATO's ground based air defenses probably wouldn't have done much better... but NATO's CAP and AEW&C capabilities are far superior to make up for it.
 

Abominable

Senior Member
Registered Member
Low flying, small RCS suicide drones are just cruise missiles.

Really, the Mugin 5 strike that Ukraine did, doesn't show us anything new which the world didn't already know.






Because in your last few posts 5387 and 5385, it seemed to be implying that a Mugin 5 drone should have been something that Russia could have defended against in the same way they have been subsequently orient their air defenses to defend against TB-2s.

I'm saying that a combination of a much lower altitude flight on a strike profile (i.e.: going directly towards a target rather than orbiting/loitering in a ISR or hunter killer strike mission that a TB-2 would do), and its smaller RCS, significantly complicates defenses, and is one which would require significant resources to defend against after the suicide drone has already been launched... and it's better to view the Mugin 5 suicide drone strike as "defending against a cruise missile" rather than "defending against a MALE UAV".
Ah. My point was: going by the video posted the altitude appeared high enough for radar to pick it up, it didn't look like it was flying under radar coverage.

Whether the radar operators can pick it up above background clutter, identify it as hostile or if they're even paying attention is another matter.
 

Blitzo

Lieutenant General
Staff member
Super Moderator
Registered Member
Ah. My point was: going by the video posted the altitude appeared high enough for radar to pick it up, it didn't look like it was flying under radar coverage.

Whether the radar operators can pick it up above background clutter, identify it as hostile or if they're even paying attention is another matter.

Yeah, ground clutter discrimination and positive identification of the target are all certainly important, but even if we go by target flight altitude, the effect on the radar horizon (and thus the warning time to intercept the target) is very significant.
Taking the same RCS target, if your ground based radar is at a normal height (let's say 5m above ground), the difference in the detection range against a target flying at 50m versus 5km (latter of which being a TB-2 altitude), and thus the time that you have to organize a response, is very very different.


Of course, in practice, the RCS of a Mugin 5 is likely quite a bit smaller than a TB-2, meaning there are even more advantages to a Mugin 5 operating on a low altitude strike/suicide profile versus a TB-2 conducting a normal ISR/strike mission.


In theory, if Ukraine flew a TB-2 at 50m altitude on such a low altitude mission as well, it is very possible that Russia would've had trouble shooting it down also. But of course, suicide strike missions is not what TB-2s are used for, so the comparison is only academic.
 

Hendrik_2000

Lieutenant General
New break thru in SAR small enough to be carried by UAV it will revolutionized surveillance now they can see thru night and day
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In a test flight on Friday, the Shenzhen research team turned an ordinary drone into a ‘predator’. They say that for the first time, even a consumer drone could use a powerful, high-definition microwave radar. Photo: Weibo

In a test flight on Friday, the Shenzhen research team turned an ordinary drone into a ‘predator’. They say that for the first time, even a consumer drone could use a powerful, high-definition microwave radar. Photo: Weibo
A breakthrough in radar technology allowed a commercial
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to capture high-definition images previously only achieved by military drones, according to the Shenzhen research team behind the development.
The researchers put a
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(SAR) on a commercial drone and captured high-definition images in a test flight.
In the past, such a powerful radar system was only available for military drones, such as the Predator or Global Hawk, because the technology was big, sophisticated and consumed a huge amount of power.
 

Clark Gap

New Member
Registered Member
Indeed.

Looking at the video the drone seemed to be operating 50m+, high enough that it could have been picked up on radar.

The main issue I have with Mugin is that it's fuel powered. If you watch the video you can hear it quite clearly even though it's far away. The bigger the payload the bigger the drone, and the harder it becomes for electric powered drones to match the higher energy density of fuel drones.

Still, I'd still rather have 200 type Mugin-5s drones (or however many you could buy) than 1 TB-2.

9.5k mugin-5 does not include the price of engine.
 

ZeEa5KPul

Captain
Registered Member
Taking the same RCS target, if your ground based radar is at a normal height (let's say 5m above ground), the difference in the detection range against a target flying at 50m versus 5km (latter of which being a TB-2 altitude), and thus the time that you have to organize a response, is very very different.
This is an excellent opportunity to give some quantification of this phenomenon. Suppose you have two objects at heights h_1 and h_2 (yet another time I wish forums implemented LaTeX), their mutual radar horizon is given by
H(h_1, h_2) = √D( √h_1 + √h_2) where D is the diameter of the Earth.
The contribution from the height of the radar (5m above ground) is the same in both cases (8km). In the 50m case, the horizon is 8 + 25.2 = 33.2km. In the 5km case, the horizon is 8 + 252.4 = 260.4km. The TB-2 detection range is nearly eight times greater than that of the Mugin-5.

But wait, it gets better! That's the increase in detection range. Having an 8x greater range gives the radar a 64x greater search area, since that scales quadratically.
 

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