China’s CASC plans app-based control system for Cai Hong UAVs


CASC engineers ready a pair of CH-4 strike-capable reconnaissance UAVs for a flight test in northwestern China. The company is developing an app-based interface to simplify higher order UAV operations. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

Kelvin Wong – IHS Jane’s International Defence Review

03 August 2017

Engineers at the Beijing-based China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platform, systems, and technology business unit of defence prime China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), are developing a new app-based UAV management system specifically designed to reduce the complexities of operating larger, multirole air vehicles in the medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) class.

Jane’s sources revealed that such an effort had been under way since 2014 and the company aims to have early software builds ready for field trials “in the near future”. It is expected that the yet-to-be-named app-based system will be made available as an option for the company’s flagship products such as the Cai Hong 4 (Rainbow 4, or CH-4) – which is already in service a number of countries in Central Asia and the Middle East – and the recently market-ready CH-5 strike-capable reconnaissance MALE UAVs when fully developed.

A company official briefed Jane’s that the proposed management system takes the form of open architecture software that exploits the high level of automation that is already inherent in the company’s UAV platforms – which are already capable of automatic take-off and landing and autonomous navigation – to enable an operator to assign tasks to one or multiple platforms using easily identifiable app icons.

“Our app-based approach is designed to increase the effectiveness of UAV missions by raising operator focus from the level of tactical operation to that of supervision,” the official explained. “By automating most, if not all tactical functions, we are also aiming to ease the cognitive burden on operators, enabling them to supervise and command multiple concurrent UAV missions without losing effectiveness.”

Source: IHS Jane’s 360 “China’s CASC plans app-based control system for Cai Hong UAVs”

Note: This is IHS Jane’s 360’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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Drones, lasers, and tanks: China shows off its latest weapons


A peek at the arsenal at an arms fair in Dubai.

By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer February 28, 2017

VT-4 MBT
The VT-4 tank is the most high-tech tank offered by China. It boasts increased balancing armor, firepower, protection, and sensors. Photo: Hongjian via China Defense Forum

At the International Defense Exhibition and Conference, one of the world’s largest arms fairs, weapons-makers from around the world show off their latest. At this year’s show in Dubai, China flaunted a range of high-tech weaponry spread across over 16,000 square feet of floor space. Included: S-20 attack submarines, FC-31 stealth fighter jets, and updates to laser and drone weaponry.

Silent Hunter
The Silent Hunter laser is powerful enough to cut through light vehicle armor at up to a kilometer away, making you wonder if China already has more powerful laser weapons only for domestic use. Photo: mil.huanqiu.com

Let’s start with lasers. Poly Technologies showed off The Silent Hunter, one of the world’s most powerful laser weapons. It claims an output of at least 50-70 kilowatts, which would make it more powerful than the 33-kilowatt laser weapon systems (LaWS) currently deployed on the USS Ponce. The laser is probably based on a smaller anti-drone laser, the Low Altitude Guard. That’s enough to knock out automobiles by burning out their engines from over a mile away, as the 30-kilowatt Lockheed Martin ATHENA laser demonstrated in 2015. The Silent Hunter uses fibre optic lasers (fibre optics doped with rare earth minerals), which provide weight savings over chemical lasers through increasing optical gain by kilometers of coiled fibre optics (as opposed to bulky chemical lasers). The Silent Hunter is likely to be scaled up and equipped with radars to complement its optical/infrared tracking system, making it a capable close range defense system against enemy missiles, artillery, drones and aircraft.

CH-5
The CH-5 has a flight time of 60 hours and a 4,400-mile range, which is greater than some reported figures for the MQ-9 Repear. Photo: xyz at China Defense Forum

The CH-5 drone is China’s largest UCAV offered for export, with a fuel-efficient turboprop engine that gives it a 4,400-mile range and 60 hour flight time (soon to become 12,000 miles and 120 hours of flight). In addition to carrying one ton of weapons, its communications systems allows its controller to use the plane as a relay station for controlling other drones. It could also benefit from breakthroughs in Chinese AI to work as part of an autonomous drone swarm in the future.

In the robotics category, there was also a tracked unmanned ground vehicle armed with a forward firing machine gun. Weighing between 50 and 100 pounds, it could be carried by platoon level units for patrol and breaching duties.

Machine Gun Robot
The tracked robot in the background is a remotely armed robot with a machine gun, along with an active suspension system for traversing urban obstacles. Photo: CCTV footage

Conventional ground vehicles were also on display for sale. The 52-ton VT-4 tank is already an export success, with the sale of a battalion to Thailand. The VT-4 is a scaled-down version of the heavy ZTZ-99A tank, and can fire 125mm armor-piercing and guided munitions. Additionally, the VT-4 can reportedly be fitted with an active protection system (APS) to physically destroy enemy missiles targeting the tank. The PLZ-52 self-propelled howitzer has the ability to shoot an extended-range 155mm shell to a range of 62 miles, along with more conventional munitions to a maximum range of 32 to 37 miles. Given that the PLZ-52’s predecessor, the PLZ-45, found fans in Kuwait, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia, the PLZ-05 is likely to be popular in foreign markets.

Big Guns
The 155mm PLZ-04 self-propelled howitzer, seen here in desert camouflage, can fire boosted ammunition with a 62-mile range. Its export variant is the PLZ-52. Photo: Chinese Internet

The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) recently came out with report that China is “near parity” with western nations in terms of indigenous defense technology. As we can see from IDEX 2017, that is playing out in fields that range from tanks to lasers. And as the Chinese defense industry innovates more, it will likely grab an even bigger share of international arms sales.

Source: Popular Science “Drones, lasers, and tanks: China shows off its latest weapons”

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


China’s Homegrown Drones Better than US Global Hawk, Predator


Yunying drone displayed for the first time. Photo: mil.huauqiu.com/Ma Jun

China displays for the first time its Yunying drone and the weapons it may carry. Photo: mil.huauqiu.com/Ma Jun

China’s Yunying Drone is the best among the same type of drone in the world in height and speed of flight and range of strike and reconnaissance. It is as good in reconnaissance as Global Hawk, but stronger in attack.

As soon as it receives signal of task from ground station, it go to attack at high speed. Its integration of surveillance, reconnaissance and attack functions enables it to greatly shorten the time between discovering and destroying its target. It is able to plan attack route and fire at its target automatically.

Yunying and Fengying drones may coordinate with J-20 in combat.

Caihong-5 (CH-5) drone is better than Predator with its wingspan of 21 meters, maximum takeoff load of 3.3 tons, duration of 40 hours, range of 6,500 km, and ability to carry 16 air-to-ground missiles.

Source: Science and Technology Daily “China’s Yunying drone world advanced in functions may coordinate with J-20 in combat” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


China to Showcase CH-5 Drone Better than US Predator B


China's new CH-5 multi-function drone better than Preditor B

China’s new CH-5 multi-function drone better than Preditor B

China's solar powered drone that may stay in air for months and even years

China’s solar powered drone that may stay in air for months and even years

Model of China's integrated ground effect and air cushion vessel

Model of China’s integrated ground effect and air cushion vessel

China's new CH-805 high-speed stealth target aircraft

China’s new CH-805 high-speed stealth target aircraft

Mil.huanqiu.com says in its report today that China will showcase its largest reconnaissance-attack CH-5 drone in its Zhuhai Airshow that scheduled to open on November 1.

CH-5 is better than US Predator B in longer endurance of 40 hours (Predator B 20 hours) and range of 6,500 km (Predator B 1,852 km)

CH-5 can be used for a wide range of purposes such as reconnaissance, ground attack,
early warning, integrated air and ground command platform and marine patrol and surveillance.

The AR-1 and AR-2 air-to-ground missiles it carries are lighter than the traditional anti-tank missiles Predator B uses. They are lighter without such excessive explosive as an anti-tank missile, more accurate and cheaper.

Due to their light weight, CH-5 can carry more missiles.

The airshow will showcase some Chinese drones with new concepts such as integrated ground effect and air cushion vessel, VTOL fixed-wing drone, high-speed stealth target drone and a solar powered drone that will hopefully remain in air for months or even years.

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “China will showcase for the first time its CH-5 drone with multiple functions better than US Predator B” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


Bare the Secret of China’s New CH-5 Reconnaissance-Strike Drone


CH-5 drone

CH-5 drone

China’s new CH-5 reconnaissance-strike drone was showcased at the recent sixth drone trade fair in Shenzhen. On November 17, Mil.huanqiu.com reporter had an exclusive interview at the trade fair with Shi Wen, chief designer of Rainbow series of reconnaissance-strike drones (CH-1 to CH-5 drones) of China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). Shi gave the following specifications of CH-3 drone that are somewhat different from those revealed in Wikipedia

Specifications of CH-3
Wingspan (m): 8
Length (m): 5.5
Range (km): 2,400 instead of 960 as revealed in wikipedia
Endurance (h): 12
Takeoff weight (kg): 640
Effective payload (kg): 60
Ceiling (km): 6 instead of 4 as revealed in wikipedia
Weapons: 2 AR-1 missiles

However, the reporter’s interest was mainly on the new member of Shi’s Rainbow series drones CH-5. Shi said that CH-5 had its successful maiden flight in August and its payload is 2.5 times of that of CH-4. He revealed for the first time the secret of the specifications of CH-5 as follows:

Specifications of CH-5
Wingspan (m): 20
Endurance (h): 40 to be raised to 120
Takeoff weight (kg): 3,000
Payload (kg): 800-900 for domestic version/480 for export version
Maximum payload (kg): 1,000
Ceiling (km): 8-9

Source: mil.huanqiu.com “Exclusive interview with Rainbow drones chief designer Shi Wen: Secret about CH-5 specifications fully bared” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


China’s New Heavy Reconnaissance-strike Drone Better than US Predator


 Rainbow 5 is the latest in a series of unmanned aerial vehicles developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. Photo: Sina News

The Rainbow 5 is the latest in a series of unmanned aerial vehicles developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. Photo: Sina News

Select guests get a close-up look at the Rainbow 5 military drone. Photo: CNTV

Select guests get a close-up look at the Rainbow 5 military drone. Photo: CNTV

China's new drone has a take-off weight of more than three tonnes and a wingspan similar to that of the United States’ Reaper drone (above). Photo: AP

China’s new drone has a take-off weight of more than three tonnes and a wingspan similar to that of the United States’ Reaper drone (above). Photo: AP

China's flagship Rainbow 5 military drone is capable of performing missions without ground support. Photo: Sina.com

China’s flagship Rainbow 5 military drone is capable of performing missions without ground support. Photo: Sina.com

In its report titled “Built to kill: China unveils its latest heavyweight contender in military drone race” on the successful maiden flight of China’s new Caihong-5 (CH-5 or Rainbow-5) drone, SCMP quotes the drone’s designer as saying, “The unmanned Rainbow 5, with a wall-penetrating radar, is a game-changer in China’s airstrike missions.”

The radar enables the drone to identify terrorists hiding in a bush or building and attack them.

The US uses such radar earlier than China, but SCMP says, “But another Rainbow 5 designer, Lan Wenbo, said the new Chinese drone was equipped with more advanced technology that better equipped it for future warfare.”

According China’s Oriental Satellite TV’s footage in Chinese that displayed by SCMP in the report, CH-5 is a medium- and low-altitude long-duration drone with a takeoff weight of 3 tons, wingspan of 20 meters and ability to remain in air for 30 hours. Only the largest US Predator drone is comparable to CH-5 in size, weight and flight duration. CH-5 is entirely made of synthetic materials and able to carry 900 kg load.

Ou Zhongming, chief commander of drone series in Research Institute 11 of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), says on TV screen, “According to our standards, the maiden flight should be regarded as an entire success.”

Lan Wenbo, Director of the Totality Office of the Institute, says on screen, “It is able to increase its scope of reconnaissance from 20-30 to 80 km and to discover and attack a target from a longer distance away so as to keep itself farther away from the source of danger.”

SCMP says the drone can carry 6 missiles.

Full text of SCMP’s report with the Oriental Satellite TV’s footage can be viewed at http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1853872/built-kill-china-unveils-its-most-powerful-military

Source: SCMP “Built to kill: China unveils its latest heavyweight contender in military drone race” (summary by Chan Kai Yee of the TV footage in Chinese)