Project 973 Shenying (Divine Eagle) HALE UAV
The "Shenying" UAV is a high-altitude and long-duration unmanned aerial vehicle. It is equipped with high-performance radar and can perform early warning tasks. This drone's long-range anti-reconnaissance capability can be used against aircraft and warships to help intercept stealth attacks. It can also be used to monitor anti-ship missile trucks and ground defense. If it successfully entered service, Divine Eagle would become the first airborne anti-stealth radar system in the world and could be used to counter American F-22s, F-35s and B-2s.
This very large UAV should not be confused with the Divine Eagle (Shen-Ying or Shenying) series of small Chinese UAVs developed by Ningbo Best Aerial Technic & Engineering Co., Ltd. These unrelated small UAVs are in various designs designated sequentially Shenying-1 through Shenying-5, while the ibg Divine Eagle has no numerical suffix.
The Divine Eagle is possibly the largest UAV in the world with a wingspan of about 50 meters. The design of Divine Eagle appears to share some similarity with the Russian Sukhoi S-62 UAV concept which first appeared around 2000. Details about the precise performance of the Condor have not been revealed, but the prototype in the picture shows that it is a single engine and dual fuselage, each with two vertical tails as stabilizers.
In June 2015 pictures of China's largest drone revealed new details of China's "stealth hunting" capabilities. Called the Divine Eagle, the UAV is a high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which can use special radar to monitor stealth fighters over long distances. The Divine Eagle has flown in February 2015, but this was the first time a picture of the drone has been posted online. The filtered photos of the UAV only now emerged on the Chinese Internet (filtering photos to blur visual details is one way Chinese Internet denizens avoid censorship). Promoters of new automobile designs know that this sort of progressive strip tease is a good means of building interest in the product, whetting appetites for more details and a better view.
The US monthly magazine, Popular Science, said the pictures were released following the release of the Chinese Ministry of Defense white paper, which called for enhanced military exploration capabilities. Compared to original design concepts, the Divine Eagle prototype has less stealthy features, such as conventional vertical stabilizers (upright tailfins), and an unshielded engine intake located in between the tailfins.
The details on the photo confirm that the Divine Eagle is a single engine, twin bodied aircraft with two large vertical stabilizers (tails). It also has two satellite communication domes. Compared to the initial concept art and drawings available in February, the latest Divine Eagle iteration is less stealthy, having completely vertical tails and an exposed engine intake.
Determining the Divine Eagle's size is difficult, but assuming that the fuselage has a diameter of 1.2-1.5 meters (large enough to accommodate stealth detecting X-band radars), the photo suggests a fuselage height to length ratio of 1:12, giving a probable length of 14.4 meters to 18 meters. Gauging the wingspan is more difficult, but it may likely be 40-50 meters in width. Jeffrey Lin and P.W.Singer estimated that the aircraft fuselage is approximately 1.5 meters diameter, with a height to length ratio of 1:12, and a length of up to 18 meters. The wing span is 50 meters. According to a local source, the UAV is currently undergoing flight tests. It has a maximum flight ceiling of 25 km and a maximum speed of Mach 0.8. The UAV is thought to be powered by a medium-thrust turbofan engine without A/B (WS-12 without A/B) located above the main wing and between the two fuselages.
It may be equipped with seven radars, including an X / UHF AMTI electronic scanning phased array radar (AESA) at the front end and two X / UHF AMTI / SAR / GMTI AESA radars at two domes. There are two X / UHF AMTI AESA radars on both sides of the engine nozzle, and two radars at the end of the dome. The horizontal width of the Divine Eagle UAV radome is about 1.5 meters. The Divine Eagle interferometer radomes have a diameter of 5 or 7.5 meters.
There is a large difference of 22,000 feet between China's Divine Eagle and the US Global Hawk. According to Popular Science, China's Divine Eagle UAV has a maximum altitude of 25km (or 79,000 feet). In contrast, the US Global Hawk has a maximum altitude of only 18km (or 57,000 feet). The most likely explanation is the two UAVs are designed for different roles. The US Global Hawk was designed for reconnaissance. It is looking for ground targets. The Chinese Divine Eagle UAV was designed to detect stealth fighters and bombers.
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