Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
|BA - (Drone) |
|WZ - Wuren Zhencha (UAV)|
Anjian UCAV [Shenyang]
CH-1 Chang Hong-1
CH-3 Chang Hong-3
CH-4 Chang Hong-4
CH-5 Chang Hong-5
CK-1 Chang Kong-1
WZ-6 BZK-006 / K/JWR6?
The pilotless aircraft is an aircraft in which there is no pilot and it is flown either by its own onboard programable flight control system or by a remote control system operated by a pilot in a carrier aircraft or on ground. Its controlled long distance flight was realized by use of its onboard autopilot, programable flight control system, remote control and telemetering system, automatic navigation system, automatic landing system, etc. Compared with the manned aircraft it is lighter in weight, smaller in size, lower in production cost and better in stealthiness. It is particularly suitable for high risk missions.
The pilotless aircraft have developed rapidly since a radio controlled model airplane was used as a drone abroad in the 1930s. The small low altitude and low speed piston-engined drones became operational in the 1940s and the high subsonic and supersonic high performance drones appeared in the 1950s. With the development of microelectronics, navigation and control technologies some countries developed pilotless reconnaissance aircraft after the 1960s. Now the applications of the pilotless aircraft are increasingly expanded. In military area the pilotless aircraft are used in missions of reconnaissance, communication, anti-submarine, electronic counter-measures and ground attack and in civil area they are used in geophysical survey, natural resource exploration, meteorological observation, forest fire-fighting and artificial rainfall; and in R& D area they are used in air sampling proof and advanced technology demonstration.
The investigation to the pilotless aircraft in China began in the late 1950s. The laws of the automatic takeoff and landing for both the An-2 and 11-28 aircraft were basically mastered in 1959. UAVs were first used by the US in China during the 1960s. In fact, one of the first Chinese UAVs was partially developed by reverse engineering one of Firebee unmanned aerial vehicles that was lost over China. China also acquired Russian Lavochkin target drones.
The development of the pilotless aircraft began in second half of the 1960s and by the 1980s had grown into 3 series of products, i.e. the Changkong 1 drones, WZ-5 high altitude photographic reconnaissance aircraft and small remotely controlled aircraft D4s. The pilotless aircraft design and research organizations were founded in NAI, BIAA and NPU. These universities have been used as the bases and have the capabilities of design and small scale production. The various types of the pilotless aircraft made in China have basically satisfied the needs of military and civilian applications and have gradually entered into the world market. While UAV programs in China originally were based on US and Russian designs, today Chinese researchers are producing original research and their own designs for mini, micro, vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL), and flapping-wing UAVs.
With the success of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology in recent global conflicts, China is looking to position itself as a major consumer and exporter of UAVs. Hence, the previously dormant Chinese market for UAV is poised for significant growth. With UAV technologies expected to re-shape national defense strategies and policies, Chinese authorities have now implemented numerous steps to put developments back on track, while introducing indigenous UAV development programs.
Moreover, numerous countries in the Asia Pacific region are progressively modernizing their defense capabilities. Hence, authorities are now convinced that existing and new UAV programs have to be implemented at a quicker rate if China wishes to expand its influence in the Asia Pacific and global defense markets. Following its accomplishments in designing and manufacturing UAVs, China is now looking to enter the electronic warfare (EW) market.
China's research and development centers, especially Xian's Northwest Polytechnic University (NPU), and the Beijing and Nanjing Universities of Aeronautics and Astronautics, have active UAV developmental programs, intended to support the PLA's tactical C4I structure. Among the many Chinese universities and research institutions involved in UAV research are the Beijing Technology Company, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), Hebei Electric Power Reconnaissance Design Academy, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Shaanxi Engine Design Institute, and Xian ASN Technology Group Company.
China has an active program to purchase or develop unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for its armed forces. Several Western suppliers are actively interested in pursuing the market for UAVs in China. Indigenous Chinese UAVs also will be developed and could be improved with foreign assistance. Illicit sales of UAVs remain an issue. Japan and Israel, in particular, have been involved in a number of cases of selling UAV technology in violation of export restrictions to China. For example, Israel's IAI Malat sold Harpy UAVs to China in 1994 and, in May 2006, was accused of selling Sparrow UAVs also to China.
In August 2006, Japan's Yamaha Motor Company was accused of selling the RMAX helicopter UAV to Beijing Technology Company, China, which has ties to the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), in violation of Japan'sForeign Exchange and Foreign Trade Control Law. Although Yamaha has claimed that the UAV cannot be used for military purposes because it is inoperable beyond radio range, the RMAX features allow it to easily be converted for long, autonomous missions. The Japanesemilitary, for example, used the RMAX in Iraq for surveillance. Another report said that Yamaha exported 11 UAV helicopters to Beijing's Poly Technologies and to Beijing Technology Company, both of which also have ties to the PLA.
Although China's military probably prefers to purchase a proven system, China's leadership may have determined that indigenous production of UAVs is in China's best interest. While China's military has a great interest in using UAVs in tactical C4I, it has only limited capability and experience with UAVs to date. Consequently, the practical application of UAV sensor information to battlefield operations is only in the developmental stage. The application of UAVs in tactical C4I operations is likely to increase as new UAVs become operational within the Chinese military.
China's airborne ISR program has placed significant emphasis on UAVs. China's armed forces have operated the Chang Hong (CH-1) long-range, air- launched autonomous reconnaissance drone since the 1980s. China developed the CH-1 by reverse-engineering US Firebee reconnaissance drones recovered during the Vietnam War. An upgraded version of the system was displayed at the 2000 Zhuhai air show and is being offered for export. A PRC aviation periodical reported that the CH-1 can carry a TV, daylight still, or infrared camera. It most likely is not equipped with a data link, which would allow remote-controlled operation, nor is it capable of providing real-time payload feedback to the remote operator.
China's armed forces also operate other UAVs, primarily for battlefield reconnaissance or electronic warfare. Beijing has ongoing efforts in UAV research. Interest in UAVs, mainly reconnaissance versions for use with the ground forces, underscores the PLA's requirements to increase reconnaissance and air defense capabilities.
Among the representative models produced in the past few years are some dual- use versions, such as the W-50 UAV, which can be employed for missions such as reconnaissance, radio-relay, and electronic jamming. Another UAV starting to enter the inventory is the ASN-206. Its primary military applications reportedly are day and night reconnaissance, battlefield surveillance, target location, artillery fire correction, and battle damage assessment.
ASN Technology Group is a specialized UAV R&D company in China. ASN Technology Group now is the biggest UAV production company and R&D base in China. The First UAV of China was designed and manufactured by ASN in 1958. In the follwoing fifty years, over 40 different types of UAV were manufactured and in total over 1,500 UAV were delivered in ASN. The end users of ASN UAV products mainly are the Chinese troops. Now over 90% of the Chinese UAV market is held by ASN, which had nearly 500 employees, of whom 15% are Professors, 22% are senior engineers and 18% are engineers. ASN was awarded ISO9001 authentication in 2000. Advanced design,experienced manufacture and state of the art infrastructure, enable ASN to possess great achievement and potentiality in UAV R&D. In the fields of target drone, reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition and electronic warfare, the UAV products of ASN are world level and sophisticated.
A concept model of China's unmanned aerial combat vehicle named "Anjian" (Dark Sword) was displayed at the 47th International Paris Air Show, held from June 18th to June 24th of 2007. The aerial combat vehicle was designed by the Shenyang Aeroplane Design Institution under China Aviation Industry Corporation I (CAIC1), for future aerial combat.
The Tian Yi began testing in 2009, as Chengdu's step toward a future Global Hawk class HALE UAV. A new Chinese UAV design — with a 60,000-ft. cruising altitude, 300-mi. radar surveillance range and low radar reflectivity (if it uses the right composite structure) — could serve as the targeting node for China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles.
Richard Fisher notes [Testimony for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission Hearing on China's Emergent Military Aerospace and Commercial Aviation Capabilities, May 20th, 2010] "At the 2000 Zhuhai show the Guizhou WZ-2000 was revealed, a squat twin-jet powered delta winged high-altitude long-endurance UAV, which by the 2002 Zhuhai show evolved into a medium sized UAV, which by the 2008 Zhuhai show appeard to form the basis for an armed turbofan powered unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) similar in size to the U.S. General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper.
"Since the 2006 Zhuhai show there appears to emerged a rough division of labor, in which Chengdu and Guizhou concentrate on medium and long range surveillance UAVs and medium range UCAVs, while Shenyang appears to be concentrating on future long range subsonic and supersonic UCAVs. The 2006 Zhuhai show saw the revelation, in model form, of Chengdu's Tian Yi, which was revealed by internet sources in 2008 to have entered testing. While likely useful as a medium range UAV, the Tian Yi also serves to aid the development of Chengdu's Long Haul Eagle, which is close in size and configuration to the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk. In 2006 Guizhou revealed in model form its box-wing Soar Dragon UAV, credited with a 7,000km range, but there has been no subsequent information on this system.
"At the 2006 Zhuhai airshow Shenyang created a stir by introducing in model form its Dark Sword supersonic UCAV, about which Shenyang has revealed very little. In 2006 it was described in a small plaque as a "fighter," which would have been an amazing accomplishment for a UCAV, though this mission was not mentioned in its plaque at the 2008 Zhuhai show. There has been some suggestion that this design may have been inspired by South African technical assistance. A new model of the Dark Sword was revealed as part of the 2009 PLAAF Anniversary, an indication that it remains an ongoing program. At the 2008 Zhuhai show the forward-swept wing subsonic Warrior Eagle was revealed, also likely a Shenyang program. This concept appears to be a more realistic goal technologically, if one considers it is well suited for attack and surveillance missions. Wall illustrations at the 2008 Zhuhai show suggested the Warrior Eagle would also be capable of cooperative "swarm" missions. There are also indications that the X'ian Aircraft Co. may be developing a strike UCAV. "
China's rapidly expanding defense budget supported impressive advances in drone technology, prompting some to worry that the United States' global dominance in the market could soon be challenged. At the 2012 airshow in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai, China unveiled a new generation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Long-time observers of Chinese military capability reported the drones on display were bigger and more sophisticated than in the past.
Though many of the prototypes and models on display at the Zhuhai air show did not have explicit military purposes, others appeared to be clones of US drones, such as the Predator or Reaper, which have both been used in deadly missions on suspected militants. There is no evidence suggesting China plans to use its drones in a similar manner as the United States, and observers say Beijing is still likely far behind Washington in drone technology.
But a report published in July by the Defense Science Board, a committee that advises the US Defense Department, suggested that Beijing's ramped up spending and research on drones could threaten US supremacy in the sector. The unclassified report, The Role of Autonomy in DoD Systems, called China's recent focus on UAVs "alarming," warning Beijing could "easily match or outpace U.S. spending on unmanned systems, rapidly close the technology gaps and become a formidable global competitor in unmanned systems."
"In a worrisome trend, China has ramped up research in recent years faster than any other country. It displayed its first unmanned system model at the Zhuhai air show five years ago, and now every major manufacturer for the Chinese military has a research center devoted to unmanned systems. The latest pictures and models of unmanned systems from China show a reconnaissance truck with a joined wing and tail that could considerably increase range and payload and produce better handling at high altitudes.... Much of China’s efforts remain secret, but the large number of unmanned systems displayed at recent exhibitions, and very recent revelations on development and operational efforts underscore not only China’s determination to catch up in this sector, but also its desire to sell this technology abroad. ... China has had an active UAV program since the mid-1990s. However, data on the actual extent of UAV production is nearly non-existent, and there is little available information on China’s overall procurement objectives."
In China, state media said those reportedly peaceful missions include patrolling maritime regions. In September 2012, the Xinhua news agency reported that China's State Oceanic Administration would step up the use of drones to "strengthen marine surveillance" in disputed areas of the South China Sea. A Chinese government report earlier in 2012 called for 11 drone bases to be established along China's coastline by 2015.
But other missions were seemingly more mundane. The Chinese state-run Global Times reported in June 2012 that Beijing police is using a drone to spot illegal opium poppies in rural areas of the capital. Last year, the paper said the department would also use unmanned aircraft to "monitor traffic accidents, conduct aerial surveillance, or help with rescue operations."
So far there are no known instances of China carrying out deadly attacks with weaponized UAVs. But Li Yidong, a designer for the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, told the Global Times that one of the UAVs on display at the Zhuhai air show appears to have carried out 20 missions and fired 15 missiles, judging from the number of red stars and missile patterns on the drone. At the Zhuhai air show, Huang Wei, the director of a drone program at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation told the Global Times that UAVs were, "as the Americans say," fit for missions that are "dirty, dangerous and dull."
One area of concern for the United States is that China may increasingly export its relatively inexpensive drone technology to nations around the world. That fear was heightened when the Global Times said in November 2012 that "some foreign sales" were reported at the Zhuhai air show. Chinese drones, many of which are specifically produced for the export market, may be attractive to countries that cannot afford or are otherwise prevented from purchasing the US alternatives. American drones are expensive, very sophisticated platforms. The Chinese produce a cheaper variety that basically does a similar job. The Chinese have cheap labor, technological know-how, and are always looking for export markets that are growing.
But price is only one factor that nations consider when purchasing foreign military equipment. Beijing is not likely become the "Wal-Mart" of international drone sales anytime soon. The reliability, the maintenance of these things is still unproven, and there's a lot of political baggage that comes with buying Chinese products. Chinese exports of drones may be limited by international arms sales regulations that govern exports of weapons and "dual-use" goods that have both civilian and military purposes.
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