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.
A peek at the arsenal at an arms fair in Dubai.
By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer February 28, 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)