America’s Newest Carrier Is a Fiasco. The Navy Just Admitted Why


The USS Gerald R. Ford joined the fleet 4 years ago. It has yet to make a single deployment.

BY KYLE MIZOKAMI

JUL 22, 2021

The Chief of Naval Operations, Mike Gilday, says the U.S. Navy built the aircraft carrier USS Ford with too many new technologies.

Now, the Ford is several years behind in its life cycle because of problems with many of those new technologies.

The last of the Ford’s four advanced weapon elevators, the most glaring example of the ship’s tech gone wrong, should enter service later this year.

The head of the U.S. Navy admits the service added too much untested tech to its latest and greatest aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford.

When the Navy first built the Ford, it incorporated nearly two dozen new technologies, some of which are still giving the service headaches 4 years after the ship entered the fleet.

In a presentation recorded for August’s Sea Air Space exposition, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said adding 23 new features to the Ford was a “mistake” the Navy can’t afford to repeat.

THE STRANGE SAGA OF THE USS FORD

What Went Wrong?

Gilday said he needs to take “a much more deliberate approach with respect to introducing new technologies to any platform”—preferably one that only introduces up to two technologies per ship and thoroughly tests them on land first.

The USS Ford is the inaugural ship in the Ford-class aircraft carriers, the first new class of aircraft carriers in 40 years. The Navy was eager to cram new tech into the Ford, including a new search radar, electromagnetically powered aircraft catapults to replace traditionally steam-powered catapults, a new aircraft recovery system, and 11 electromagnetically powered elevators designed to shuttle bombs and missiles from the ship’s magazine to waiting aircraft.

But technical problems with the new features led to $2.8 billion in cost overruns and delays, resulting in a total ship cost of $13 billion—not including the actual planes on the carrier.

Those delays meant the Navy only commissioned the Ford in 2017, despite laying it down in 2009. Even then, problems lingered, especially with the electromagnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) and the advanced weapon elevators (AWEs).

The ship’s first full deployment, originally scheduled for 2018, is now set for 2022.

As a result of the Ford fiasco, the Navy is building copies of new tech bound for its Constellation-class frigates on land to ensure they work properly, according to U.S. Naval Institute News. The Navy surprisingly didn’t do this for several pieces of key tech that went into the Ford. Gilday also said the last of the 11 AWEs will be operational sometime this year.

The Ford is currently in shock trials, a series of tests off the coast of Florida designed to ensure the ship can withstand shock and battle damage in wartime. The ship will then enter a maintenance period before its first deployment next year. Hopefully.

Source: Popular Mechanics “America’s Newest Carrier Is a Fiasco. The Navy Just Admitted Why”

Note: This is Popular Mechanics’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


Exclusive: Pakistan Navy inducts 1st Type 054A/P frigate developed by China


Warship to reinforce security of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Pakistani president

By Liu Xuanzun

Published: Jan 24, 2022 09:06 PM

China launches first Type 054A/P frigate for Pakistan in Shanghai in August 2020. File photo: Courtesy of the Pakistan Navy

The Pakistan Navy on Monday inducted the PNS Tughril, the first of four Type 054A/P frigates developed by China, in the Pakistan Navy Fleet, with the president of Pakistan hailing the friendship between the two countries and announcing that the Type 054A/Ps will serve to safeguard the sea routes of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The induction ceremony of the PNS Tughril multi-role frigate was held at the Pakistan Navy Dockyard in Karachi on Monday, according to a press release the Pakistan Navy sent to the Global Times on the day.

President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi said at the ceremony that the Type 054A/P project is yet another manifestation of the deep friendship with China, and the collaboration shows a time-tested brotherly fraternity that is emerging between the two countries and continues to get stronger and stronger every day, which is focused on promoting security, stability and peace.

Alvi said that he is confident that defense cooperation between China and Pakistan will continue to grow ever stronger.

Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi, the Pakistani Chief of the Naval Staff, said at the ceremony that the Type 054A/P is a potent platform, fitted with state-of-the-art weapons and sensors.

The ship is designed for combat in a multi-threat environment, and it can generate the requisite firepower in multiple domains with supersonic surface-to-surface cruise missiles, air defense missiles, anti-submarine warfare torpedoes and the latest combat management and electronic warfare systems, which will enable the Pakistan Navy to remain on par with contemporary trends in naval warfare, Niazi said.

Niazi extended his gratitude to Admiral Dong Jun, commander of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, for his support during trials and commissioning of the PNS Tughril.

China and Pakistan signed the contract for four Type 054A/Ps for the Pakistan Navy in June 2018. The first hull of this class was launched in Shanghai in August 2020, and it was delivered to the Pakistan Navy in November 2021.

The frigate is the largest and most advanced surface combat vessel China has ever exported, China State Shipbuilding Corp, the maker of the ship, said in a statement published when the ship was delivered.

Other major naval projects undertaken and ongoing collaborations between the two countries include the F-22P frigates with organic Z-9 helicopters, survey vessel PNS Behr Masah, Azmat-class fast attack craft (missile) and Hangor-class submarines, Niazi said.

Niazi told the Global Times in an exclusive interview in 2021 that the Pakistan Navy has contracted construction of eight Hangor-class submarines, four Type 054A/P ships and medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicles from China.

Talking about the application of the Type 054A/P frigate, President Alvi said at the induction ceremony that Pakistan’s maritime sector has gained exceptional importance in the context of the CPEC, so the induction of the Type 054A/P frigates in the Pakistan Navy will not only serve to reinforce the security architecture of Pakistan’s maritime zones across the country’s maritime border, but also help safeguard the sea routes of the CPEC.

This will open the CPEC to common vistas of prosperity, development and regional integration, Alvi said, noting that he is confident that the Pakistan Navy has the requisite operational capability and wherewithal to deal with the entire range of maritime security challenges.

Niazi said at the event that Pakistan is located in an area of immense geo-economic and geostrategic significance, and the country’s maritime security is embedded with the maritime environment of Indian Ocean, which has witnessed surges in the recent past in both traditional and non-traditional maritime threats.

The Pakistan Navy’s role of maintaining order at sea for sustenance and the protection of global maritime trade has been enhanced significantly, Niazi said.

The Pakistan Navy’s responsibilities have also grown manyfold since the inception of the CPEC and the development of its associated maritime infrastructure and Gwadar Port, Niazi said.

In fulfillment of these obligations, the Pakistan Navy has continuously undertaken Maritime Security and Counter Piracy Operations since 2004 and 2009, respectively, besides the Navy’s initiative of Regional Maritime Security Patrols, the naval chief said, noting that the Pakistan Navy Fleet and Coastal Command units maintain round-the-clock readiness to foil any nefarious designs of sinister elements and give a befitting response in case of any misadventure by an adversary.

Source: Global Times “Exclusive: Pakistan Navy inducts 1st Type 054A/P frigate developed by China”

Note: This is Global Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’s views.


China’s Galactic Energy raises $200 million for reusable launch vehicle development


by Andrew Jones — January 24, 2022

Render of the Galactic Energy Pallas-1 launch vehicle. Credit: Galactic Energy

HELSINKI — Chinese commercial rocket maker Galactic Energy raised $200 million in two funding rounds during the second half of 2021, the company announced Monday.

Galactic Energy announced that the funding from B and B+ rounds, completed between July and December, would go towards development of the Pallas-1 medium-lift reusable launch vehicle and related infrastructure.

The firm is targeting early 2023 for the first launch of the kerosene-liquid oxygen Pallas-1. The two-stage Pallas-1 is designed to carry 5,000 kilograms to low Earth orbit or 3,000 kilograms to a 700-kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). Earlier statements on capabilities stated 4,000 and 2,000 kilograms to LEO and SSO respectively.

The funding rounds were led by Huaqiang Capital, Oriental Fortune Capital, AVIC Aviation Finance, China Veterans Investment, Anhui Jiangnan Construction Investment Group, Yunding Capital, Zhongtian Fortune Fund and more.

The investors are a mix of state-backed investment vehicles and private financing. Combined, the two rounds surpass the largest funding rounds for Chinese commercial launch vehicle makers.

Beijing-based Landspace and iSpace, both developing methane-liquid oxygen rockets with first stage reusability, and Expace, a solid rocket maker and spinoff from state-owned CASIC, all closed rounds in the region of $175 million in the past five years.

In December Galactic Energy became the first Chinese private launch firm to successfully reach orbit twice with its Ceres-1 solid rocket, sending five satellites into SSO.

The firm previously raised $29.9 million in November 2020 following the successful first launch of the Ceres-1.

Galactic Energy also made progress on the 50-ton-thrust Cangqiong kerolox engine for Pallas-1 during 2021. Beijing-based InterSpace Explore signed a deal with the firm in August for launch of the Zengzhang-1 demonstration returnable satellite on a Ceres-1 solid rocket in 2022.

Galactic Energy says that it is planning as many as 5-6 launches in 2022, starting in the second half of the year. The firm could also potentially conduct a sea launch of the Ceres-1, facilitated by a new Eastern spaceport for sea launches established at Haiyang, Shandong province.

Incomplete information on funding in China’s emerging commercial space sector suggested that overall Investment was lagging just over halfway through 2021, concentrating in fewer players. At the same time launch-related companies continued to emerge and attract funds.

Source: spacenews.com “China’s Galactic Energy raises $200 million for reusable launch vehicle development”

Note: This is spacenews.com’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’s views.


J-20 fighter could get directed-energy weapon, drone-control capability: experts


By Liu Xuanzun

Published: Jan 23, 2022 08:29 PM

A J-20 stealth fighter jet attached to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command takes part in exercises. The aircraft is not equipped with a Luneburg lens, a radar reflector used to make a stealth aircraft visible to others in training or non-combat flights. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

China’s domestically developed J-20 stealth fighter jet could in the future be equipped with directed-energy weapons, and it can also spawn variants for early warning, unmanned flight and drone control, military experts predicted after the aircraft received concentrated media coverage over the past week.

“I believe our industrial departments can turn some of our ideas into reality, including those from the current trend of aviation main battle equipment,” Wang Mingliang, a Chinese military expert, was quoted as saying in a China Central Television (CCTV) program on Saturday.

The J-20 could be equipped with directed-energy weapons, or it could be fitted with more powerful radar and fire control systems and become a small early warning aircraft, Wang predicted.

It is also possible that the J-20 could become capable of unmanned flight, Wang said, noting that the J-20 could also conduct coordinated operation with drones by leading them, or commanding a drone swarm in combat.

The J-20 is now equipped with domestically developed engines, but it is expected to get even more powerful domestic engines in the future, and this will enable the J-20 to carry more payload and carry out more types of missions, Wang predicted.

Wang made the remarks when asked about his expectations on the future development of the J-20, after the program rounded-up the recent concentrated media coverage of the J-20, including intense nocturnal combat drills and interviews with pilots.

In early 2020, state broadcaster CCTV reported that China was developing an airborne laser attack pod. Chinese defense firms have also publicly displayed laser defense weapon systems at exhibitions, like the LW-30, which could use a directional-emission high-energy laser to intercept aerial targets.

Lasers are a great tool for aerial interception because there is no time delay, but it requires a large amount of energy to be effective and that is the issue that must be addressed for it to be mounted on an aircraft, analysts said.

Foreign media reported in November 2021 that the twin-seat variant of the J-20 made its maiden flight at the time.

An extra pilot on the twin-seat fighter jet could be utilized in more complicated combat situations, like to control loyal wingman-style drones, which will accompany the manned fighter in flight and carry different types of payloads for a wide variety of missions, including ground and surface attacks, air-to-air combat and electronic disruption, Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times in a previous interview.

Wang Ya’nan predicted that combat data from the second seat could be gathered, analyzed and used to train artificial intelligence, which could eventually replace the second pilot.

These are in line with general trends of warplane development worldwide, as countries like the US are also exploring some of the related technologies, another Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times on Sunday, requesting anonymity.

China is making concrete steps to make these sci-fi-looking concepts a reality, the expert said.

Beyond upgrades for J-20s, even better warplanes of a next generation are expected to replace them in the future, analysts said.

Source: Global Times “J-20 fighter could get directed-energy weapon, drone-control capability: experts”

Note: This is Global Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’s views.


China tests new engine,‘likely to power hypersonic aircraft’


By Liu Xuanzun, Leng Shumei and Guo Yuandan

Published: Jan 24, 2022 09:26 PM

A new engine independently developed by China conducts a test flight on January 24, 2022. The engine was sent to a predetermined height and velocity by a two-stage rocket booster, before it started to breathe in air, ignite its combustion chamber, and provide constant thrust, marking the success of the test. Photo: Screenshot from China Central Television

China on Monday conducted a test flight for a new engine that experts said could power China’s future hypersonic aircraft and near-space plane.

The engine, developed by the Laboratory of Spray Combustion and Propulsion under School of Aerospace Engineering at Tsinghua University, successfully conducted a flight test on Monday morning, China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

A two-stage rocket booster was used to assist the test flight, CCTV said, noting that after the separation of the first stage, the second stage sent the engine to the predetermined height and velocity, and that was when the air inlet of the engine began to breathe in air very efficiently, and the fuel supply system began to spray vaporized jet fuel into the combustion chamber.

Then the ignition system started properly, the combustion chamber entered combustion status as planned, the engine worked in a stable manner and provided constant thrust, marking the complete success of the test flight, CCTV reported.

A computer-generated video shows that the second stage rocket booster did not separate from the engine, and it opened a parachute to land in a desert area, so it could be recovered.

The test gathered data on the effects caused by the parameter changes of the working environment to the operation characteristics of the engine’s combustion chamber under real flight conditions, the report said.

It also thoroughly tested the engine’s real work characteristics, validated the practicability of the technology and provided test data and accumulated experience to make this new technology into products, CCTV said.

This achievement will further enrich China’s aerospace capabilities, and has strategic significance in new-type propulsion, the report said.

Huang Zhicheng, a senior expert on aerospace science and technology, told the Global Times on Monday that the experiment is about the engine’s hypersonic flight.

Judging from the descriptions on how the engine worked, it is likely a scramjet engine, which is one of the key technologies to achieve hypersonic flight, experts said.

Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Monday that since the engine needed a two-stage rocket booster, it probably worked near space or in the upper edge of the atmosphere where air is very thin, with insufficient oxygen to support combustion.

Under such circumstances, airflow needs to be slowed down after it enters the inlet to blend it with the fuel, where fuel vaporization is a good idea to apply as it can blend the fuel and air very well to guarantee stable and effective combustion, Wang explained, noting that this could be the breakthrough in the test.

Li Xiaoguang, an expert on intelligent unmanned systems at Qingdao University, told the Global Times that the CCTV report did not reveal the specifics of the engine, but it seems to be no more than one meter long according to the report, so its thrust would not be very high.

“If it is a scaled model test which aims to verify the theory, it means that there is still some way to go before the technology matures and becomes a real product,” Li said.

When the technology becomes mature, it could see applications on hypersonic aircraft and near-space plane, Wang predicted.

Source: Global Times “China tests new engine,‘likely to power hypersonic aircraft’”


Note: This is Global Times’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’s views.


Analysis-German big business piles pressure on Lithuania in China row


By Andrius Sytas and John O’Donnell 2 days ago

VILNIUS/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Lithuania is under pressure from German companies to back down in a dispute with China to end a blockade of the Baltic state, as European trade officials struggle to defuse the row, people familiar with the matter said.

China has pressed multinationals to sever ties with Lithuania or face exclusion from its market, an unusually harsh move that has dragged companies into a political dispute and placed Beijing on a collision course with the European Union. [L1N2SU0G7]

The row erupted after the Baltic state allowed the opening of a de facto embassy by Taiwan, a self-ruled island that China views as part of its territory.

Some of the companies affected have asked Lithuania’s political leaders to de-escalate the dispute or risk a corporate exodus, according to people involved and correspondence seen by Reuters.

Many multinationals are affected, but one of the most significant hits is to the German car sector.

In a letter to Lithuania’s foreign and economy ministers, the German-Baltic Chamber of Commerce said imports of Chinese machinery and parts and the sale of Lithuanian products to China had ground to a halt and that some firms may have to leave.

Urging the ministers to seek a “constructive solution” to restore relations with China, the chamber said “the basic business model of the companies is in question and some … will have no other choice than to shut down production in Lithuania”.

Last month, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte met with business leaders, including executives from German car-parts giant Continental, to listen to their concerns, said one person who attended.

The overall damage to industry runs to hundreds of millions of euros, and she was told this would escalate if the dispute continues to interrupt global production, the person said.

This week, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda also held talks with business executives when he was urged to make an “immediate de-escalation,” according to one person with knowledge of that discussion.

The European Union’s top trade official, Valdis Dombrovskis, is also attempting to mediate between Beijing and Vilnius, ahead of a possible EU-China summit meeting in the coming months, said a person with knowledge of the matter. Lithuania belongs to the 27-state bloc.

RENAMING

The focus of the dispute is the opening of a representative office by Taiwan in Vilnius, although tensions have mounted since Lithuania’s ruling coalition agreed last year to support what it described as “those fighting for freedom” on the island.

Renaming the office to remove the word Taiwan could resolve the dispute. Taiwan has other offices in Europe and the United States but they use the name of the city Taipei, avoiding reference to the island itself.

But salvaging relations will be difficult.

“The Lithuanian government has betrayed China’s trust,” the Chinese foreign ministry told Reuters in a statement.

“For China-Lithuania relations to get back on track, Lithuania must first correct its attitude and take practical actions to correct its mistakes,” said the ministry, denying that China was exerting economic pressure.

A spokesperson for the European Commission said it would resist “coercive measures”, adding: “We stand by Lithuania. Lithuanian exports are EU exports.”

The Commission said it was reaching out to China to resolve the situation and “collecting facts and evidence” to see if China was complying with international trade rules. “We will not hesitate to act to defend our rights,” said the spokesperson.

So far, there is no sign of a climbdown by Lithuania, with its president telling the business meeting this week that it was up to Brussels, home of the European Commission, to find a solution.

While one Lithuanian official, asking not to be named, said Brussels’ involvement as a go-between was critical, another said EU backing was half-hearted and that its officials too urged Lithuania to compromise.

‘NO-GO ZONE’

China appeared to reject Brussels’ involvement.

“Problems between China and Lithuania should and can only be solved through bilateral channels between China and Lithuania,” said China’s foreign ministry. “Linking China-Lithuania issues to China-EU relations is … unlikely to solve the problem.”

The stand-off threatens Lithuanian industry, which has built up clusters of factories making parts destined for overseas, such as furniture, clothing, car parts and lasers. Hundreds of containers of goods and parts are in limbo.

It has rippled through global supply chains and, in the case of Continental, has had knock-on effects on customers such as luxury carmaker BMW and Volkswagen, two of the people said.

Volkswagen said its production is not affected, while BMW and Continental declined to comment.

“Lithuania has become a no-go zone in China,” said Joerg Wuttke, president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China.

“European companies cannot register it as a country of origin for products they are selling here. It’s been taken off the map.”

France’s trade minister Franck Riester promised to help Lithuania.

“If a Lithuanian company needs Chinese components for its production but cannot find them because China is blocking … we will be happy to help by putting it in contact with French companies or companies from other Member States,” he said.

Paris, which holds the EU presidency in the coming months, is attempting to speed up introduction of new EU trade defence measures, said French officials.

The measures could penalise China in such disputes, although it is unclear whether Europe, where countries such as Germany depend on it for trade, will agree to them.

Similarly, it has been difficult for Brussels to launch legal action against China because companies affected are unwilling to be publicly named, one person with knowledge of the matter said.

(Additional reporting by Leigh Thomas and John Irish in Paris and Ryan Woo in Beijing; writing by John O’Donnell; editing by Barbara Lewis)

Source: Reuters “Analysis-German big business piles pressure on Lithuania in China row”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’s views.


SWIFT: RMB Becomes World’s 4th Most Popular Currency Last Dec


2022/01/21 15:32

In December 2021, RMB ascended as the fourth most popular currency for global payments, for the first time in six years, according to data from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT).

RMB’s share in international payment grew from 2.14% in November 2021 to 2.7% in December, behind USD, EUR and GBP, which accounted for 40.51%, 36.65% and 5.89% of the international payment, respectively.

Source: SWIFT “SWIFT: RMB Becomes World’s 4th Most Popular Currency Last Dec”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’s views.


‘A very talented statesman’


Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is warning that the United States must not underestimate Russian President Vladimir Putin as the standoff over Ukraine escalates.

Pompeo, also a former CIA chief and possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate, said: “(Putin) is a very talented statesman. He has lots of gifts. He was a KGB agent for goodness sakes. He knows how to use power. We should respect that.” Pompeo also told Fox that the Russian leader would never have attempted to threaten another nation during the Trump administration, which he said had won Putin’s “respect.”

While it’s true that ex-President Donald Trump provided lethal arms to Kyiv and did get NATO members to invest more in their militaries, the idea that he cowed Putin into inaction requires a massive pinch of salt. Russia didn’t need to undermine NATO during the previous administration because the ex-President did it himself, frequently feuding with alliance leaders. Trump saw the bloc more as a protection racket than a bulwark of democracy, the rule of law and Western values that kept the peace in Europe for decades.

Often, Trump’s foreign policy approaches also served Russia’s goals, for instance in Syria and when he trashed US intelligence agency assessments that Moscow intervened in the US election in 2016 to help him while standing side-by-side with Putin in Helsinki. And of course, Trump was impeached for interfering in Ukrainian politics in a gross abuse of power in a bid to damage Joe Biden in what was a distinctly Putinesque maneuver. In effect, Trump, because of his hero worship of Putin, helped the Russian leader cover up an attack on America’s sovereignty and democracy.

Pompeo’s comments were an indication of the hyper-politicization of the standoff with Russia in the United States. On the face of it, the clash is a classic great power confrontation between East and West. But it’s becoming clear that the current US President’s approach is being driven by politics as well as he struggles to stabilize a presidency that is taking on water. Under attack by Republicans for being out of touch and weak, Biden cannot afford to cede to Putin’s demands for political reasons as well as strategic ones. He’s already been accused of appeasement.

Repeated US warnings from the US that Russia is on the brink of an invasion — Biden said last week he thinks it will happen — could be on the level. But a cynic might argue that they are also designed to prepare the US public and make clear the White House was not caught by surprise. And of course, if Putin finds a way to engineer a face-saving exit for himself from the crisis that stops short of an invasion, Biden can say it was his tough talk that forced the “very talented statesman” to back down.

CNN’s Meanwhile in America <meanwhile@newsletters.cnn.com>

Note: This is CNN’s Meanwhile in America article I post here for readers’ information, it does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


China Tests New Variant Of Powerful Wing Loong Drones; Experts Call It Similar To American ‘Gray Eagle’ UAVs


By Sakshi Tiwari- January 23, 2022

Chinese drones have found widespread popularity globally, especially among the Middle-Eastern countries that have emerged as the biggest buyers of Chinese Wing Loong UAVs.

Now, a new drone built entirely of composite materials has joined the Wing Loong family, reported Chinese state news agency Xinhua. According to the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the multipurpose drone named ‘Wing Loong-1E’ successfully completed its maiden flight on January 18.

According to AVIC, the large UAV performed an autonomous takeoff and then flew for 22 minutes in a good condition. The new model is built on the proven Wing Loong UAV platform, which has been refined and enhanced for better performance.

On January 20, two days after the maiden flight, analysts claimed that the new platform would outperform its predecessor in terms of range, endurance, efficiency, and reliability while remaining cost-effective.

The drone has reportedly undergone substantial optimization and performance advancements over its predecessor, according to AVIC. However, the company did not provide additional information regarding the aircraft’s performance specs.

After looking at two photos posted by AVIC showing the drone’s first flight, a Beijing-based military expert told the Global Times that although Wing Loong-1E looks similar to Wing Loong-1, the former has a distinct aerodynamic design. It also has upward-pointing winglets to the tip of the main wings like a Wing Loong-2.

Photo Wing Loong II

CAIG Wing Loong II – Wikipedia

Earlier, at the Air Show China 2021, Wing Loong-2 accomplished the first large UAV flying demonstration. It demonstrated autonomous take-off and landing, as well as ascent and air-ground coordination, as previously reported by CGTN. Wing Loong-2 is capable of both, reconnaissance as well as strike missions.

The previous Wing Loong family drones have found wide acceptability globally. China sold at least 15 Wing Loong II drones to Saudi Arabia since 2014 with plans to sell 285 more. Similarly, the UAE received both Wing Loong I and Wing Loong II drones from China in the past 10 years. Egypt, Jordan, and Iraq too reportedly operate Chinese drones.

Reports have suggested that the Chinese drones have also been used in Ethiopia during the conflict with Tigray rebels.

Last year in May, China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, a subsidiary of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), had announced the creation of a facility in Sichuan province specialized in creating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This is indicative of the Chinese intent and effort at manufacturing and upgrading its drone fleet.

The Wing Loong 1E

The Wing Loong 1E drone is believed to be lighter and sturdier than the original Wing Loong-1 because of the use of composite materials, according to the expert cited above. He further said that it will likely have a larger range and endurance, as well as higher efficiency and reliability.

Image Wing Loong-1E 2

Wing Loong 1E (via Twitter)

Some analysts believe the Wing Loong-1E could be comparable to the US MQ-1C Gray Eagle.

According to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems’ website, the American MQ-1C Gray Eagle has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 1,633 kg, a fuel capacity of 261 kg, an internal payload capacity of 261 kg, and an external payload capacity of 227 kg.

It has a service ceiling of 8,839.2 meters, a maximum endurance of 25 hours, and a speed of 309 kilometers per hour.

Image MQ-1C

MQ-1C Gray Eagle- Wikipedia

Compared to its predecessor, the MQ-1 Predator, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle has a heavy fuel engine that produces more horsepower and has a higher fuel efficiency, using either jet or diesel fuel.

According to its manufacturer, the MQ-1C Gray Eagle can carry out persistent reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and attack operations because of its electro-optical and infrared sensors, synthetic aperture radar, communication relay, and four Hellfire missiles.

Since the analysts have compared the Wing Loong 1E to the MQ-1C Gray Eagle, the new Chinese drone could be expected to carry out Intelligence, Reconnaissance and Intelligence (IRS) functions as well as strike operations similar to its predecessors.

It’s noteworthy that this new drone is being touted as cheaper than other drones in the category. It could be speculated that this drone will be marketed to foreign customers.

The Wing Loong Drone Family

Wing Loong is a medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The People’s Liberation Army Air Force uses the UAV mostly for surveillance and aerial reconnaissance missions (PLAAF).

The drone, which is equipped with a variety of armaments, may perform combat operations in addition to civil responsibilities including disaster assessment, meteorological operations, and environmental protection.

The development of the drone began in 2005, with the first test flight taking place in 2009. In 2010, a Wing Loong I prototype was displayed at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai.

The Wing Loong II, an updated version, was unveiled in September 2015 at the Beijing Aviation Expo. As of November 2019, more than 100 Wing Loong II UAVs had been supplied to different countries.

The Wing Loong-10, a ground assault variant of the Wing Loong, was unveiled in November 2020 at the Nanchang Airshow 2020.

Source: EurAsian Times “China Tests New Variant Of Powerful Wing Loong Drones; Experts Call It Similar To American ‘Gray Eagle’ UAVs”

Note: This is EurAsian Times’ article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the article’s views.


New Wing Long 1E MALE UAV from China conducts its maiden flight


Defense News January 2022 Global Security army industry

POSTED ON FRIDAY, 21 JANUARY 2022 18:43

According to pictures published on Chinese social networks, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has conducted a maiden flight with its new Wing Loong-1E, which is an advanced version of the Wing Loong 1, a Medium-Altitude Long-Endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), developed by the Chinese Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.

Photo Wing Loong 1E

The Wing Loong 1E has conducted its maiden flight on January 20, 2022, in an undisclosed area in China. (Picture source China Social Network)

Citing information provides by AVIC (Aviation Industry Corporation of China), the Wing Loong 1E has new features offering new capabilities than the previous version in terms of range, endurance, efficiency and reliability.

The Wing Loong 1E was fully designed and developed in China by the drone subsidiary of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The new drone has successfully completed its maiden flight on Tuesday, January 20, 2022.

According to our analysis, the design of the Wing Loong 1E seems very similar to the previous version, but the new drone is made using composite materials, according to AVIC information. It has been fully optimize and upgraded to offer new performances. But to date, AVIC has not released technical information on the new Wing Loong 1E.

The Wing Loong 1E design consists of a long fuselage with mid-mounted wings. Its fuselage structure is designed to minimize the radar cross section. It features two vertical tail fins, arranged in a V shape. The drone is fitted with a tri-cycle landing gear, with two main wheels under the fuselage and one single wheel under the nose. The drone is powered by a turbocharged engine, driving a three-bladed propeller, mounted at the rear of the fuselage.

The Wing Loong 1E has undergone some modifications in its design, the front has some change in its aerodynamic design and each wing has now upward-pointing winglets. The use of winglets are intended to improve the efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft by reducing drag.

As for the previous version, the Wing Loong 1E will be able to carry a wide range of weapon systems including laser-guided bombs and missiles to attack and destroy air or ground-based targets.

Using composite materials, we can assume that the new Wing Loong 1E is lighter than the previous version offering longer range and endurance as well as higher efficiency and reliability.

Source: Defense News “New Wing Long 1E MALE UAV from China conducts its maiden flight”

Note: This is Defense News’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean whether I agree or disagree with the report’s views.