Reverie of Chinas next generation stealth drone: Shipborne long endurance heavy aircraft

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 Reverie of Chinas next generation stealth drone: Shipborne long endurance heavy aircraft


Now, the boom-20 is still mysterious, but rumors have been flying all over the world, and as I imagined, it is a tailless flying wing. But another tailless flying wing has been displayed in front of people, this is attack-11. This is still a medium-sized UAV, which can not be compared with the h-20, but it is a solid and valuable start. With the accumulation of experience and the development of technology, attack-11 will grow into a larger, heavier and more advanced large-scale UAV. Air China starts from 5 and is getting better here in 20. Lets call the son of attack-11 attack-20.

China needs to attack - 20, and it needs to be urgent.

Attack-11 UAV

Chinas air force has entered the era of both attack and defense, but it must be said that defense is more than attack. Chinas air force has a dedicated air defense fighter, j-20 and J-11B, and a fighter-16 and J-10 with both advantages in air and ground. However, in addition to the old basic technology, J-7, there is no decent medium-sized quasi strategic strike aircraft focusing on ground attack. Not only is the basic technology of H-6 more old-fashioned, but now its positioning is also shifted to strategic attack.

Its a good thing to have both advantages in air and ground, but it cant replace the special ground strike aircraft. Under the same technical conditions, the performance of special aircraft is always higher than that of general aircraft. The potential conflict scenarios around China are complex, and there are a large number of general-purpose aircraft available. However, in front of the quasi strategic hard core strike task (such as anti aircraft carrier at sea, attack Japan, etc.), the general aircraft can supplement the special aircraft, but can not replace it. Only the latter can have enough diamond.

As a special quasi strategic strike aircraft, single payload and range are not enough. It needs not only high stealth to ensure the necessary penetration and survivability, but also strong ISR and electromagnetic attack and defense capabilities. B-1 bombers airborne electronic warfare capability reaches the level of EA-6B, and B-2s capability is confidential. B-21 has designed ISR and electromagnetic attack and defense as important as bombing, which is not accidental. I believe that there are corresponding considerations for the boom-20. This is also difficult for a general purpose multi mission fighter.

China ultimately needs a quasi strategic strike aircraft equivalent to General Dynamics McDonnell Douglas A-12 Avenger II, which is actually higher than A-12. The maximum take-off weight needs to be 35-40 tons, the payload in the aircraft is not less than 4-6 tons, and the operational radius is not less than 2500 kilometers. This is a very high requirement, and ideally it should also be able to get on board. From here, special aircrafts such as early warning, professional electronic warfare, refueling and antisubmarine can also be derived, and even the part-time special aircrafts with different tasks can be flexibly converted by changing the task modules in the weapon cabin. This will be a manned drone aircraft, which will be piloted in relatively safe situations or when only humans can make decisions (such as nuclear strike), or when it is too dangerous and the nature of the mission is relatively simple and clear, or when the duration of the mission exceeds human endurance, but this is a long-term goal.

At that time, the A-12 attack aircraft planned by the US Navy could carry heavy weapons including 2000 pound bombs and strategic nuclear bombs, and could also launch aim-120 air-to-air missiles

In the near future, we can consider large UAVs first, which is the attack-20.

There is no official data for the attack-11, which is generally believed to have a wingspan of 14 meters, a takeoff weight of 10-15 tons and a payload of 2 tons. The attack-20 requires a 20 meter wingspan, which may affect takeoff and landing on the carrier. The folding wing section is necessary, but it can only reduce the space occupied during shutdown and deck scheduling. It must be opened and locked before take-off and just landing. The attack-20 still needs 20-25 tons of take-off weight. Its best to improve the payload and keep it at 2 tons. However, the range needs to be greatly increased. Its better to reach 5000-6000 km, so as to reach the battle radius of 2500 km. In terms of configuration, it can be the amplification of attack-11, or it can be turned to the configuration of x-47b or rainbow-7, both of which have advantages.

The engine can be improved from the turbofan 10. It is feasible to achieve 80-100kn military thrust without adding force but increasing the culvert ratio properly. The same engine can also be used with the multi engine h-20. In fact, such an engine may have been developed for the h-20. B-2 is driven by 4 sets of 77kn General Electric f118 (non afterburner type F110). The h-20 may be a little smaller than the B-2, but considering the power requirements of electromagnetic attack and ISR, four such engines are not too many.

This is not a simple amplification of attack-11, focusing on remote attacks, ISRs, and special uses. This is important not only for land-based use, but also for shipboard use.

Chinas aircraft carrier force is still developing, which is likely to increase from the existing two to four in 10 years. But the development prospect of Shipborne fighter is not so clear. There are many legends about Haisi project, but there are different opinions about what Haisi is. What is not mentioned is the shipborne attack aircraft. Haisi has been working as a part-time fighter for a long time at most. The Chinese aircraft carrier still needs a hard core professional fighter.

If we change our thinking, now that the fifth generation fighter is still very empty, maybe its better not to rush into new research and development, but to develop deeply on the basis of J-15, focus on informatization, networking and electromagnetic attack and defense, build a quasi electric warfare class 3.75 generation carrier fighter around the two seater J-15, and take the system performance to meet the air defense needs of the fleet in the near to medium term Yes. With the help of electric bombs, composite materials, engines, and even wings, the super J-15 is expected to greatly increase the takeoff weight and combat effectiveness from the conventional sense to the electromagnetic and information fields. At the same time, taking attack-20 as the key point of offensive air operations, we should change the thinking of Shipborne air force.

Super J-15 will have much more electronic reconnaissance capability than general fighters, and supplement the deficiency of relying solely on radar in the stealth era. The super J-15 will also have strong electronic jamming capability, suppress the radar and missile guidance of enemy aircraft, and even destroy the antenna and electronic equipment of enemy aircraft and missile with directional high power. These are the complement of the radar and missile capabilities of the traditional fighter, not the replacement. The highly informationized and networked fighter adds more eyes, arms and eye blocking techniques. Fleet air defense mainly avoids the problem of insufficient stealth and super patrol capability. Such a deep upgrade can effectively extend the tactical life of the J-15s basic technology. Importantly, the vitality of Shipborne air force lies in attack, which is reflected in the offensive attack-20 supported by super J-15.

Traditionally, fighters are in charge of air combat and attackers are in charge of the ground. So the fighter emphasizes speed and maneuverability, and the attacker emphasizes range and payload. But now, air combat is mainly carried out between air-to-air missiles and aircraft, and the speed and mobility of launching carrier aircraft are not as important as before; in addition, high stealth and electromagnetic attack and defense can make up for the survival gap caused by the lack of speed and mobility, and informatization and networking are the means of situation awareness that even fighter planes also rely on. Heavy platform is more conducive to high informatization and network Realization of networking.

The development of a more powerful carrier based Fighter Based on the j-15d may be a transitional plan for improving the operational capability of the carrier based aircraft forces of the PLA Navy before the emergence of the fourth generation aircraft

This is not to say that heavy attack aircraft can replace fighters to fight in air combat. Just as a fighter cant replace an attacker to perform a hard core strike mission, an attacker cant replace a fighter to perform a hard core air combat mission. However, relying on high stealth, information and networking, the attacker can ambush with air-to-air missiles, or use a large load of missiles to act as a missile truck under the command of early warning aircraft and fighter planes, which can be achieved.

When it is used for air combat ambush, the speed and mobility of attack-20 need not be very good, but it must be highly invisible and have a long range, which is exactly what attack-20 has. It needs a large amount of ammunition to go deep into the enemys rear to ambush. It is better to mount at least six medium range air-to-air missiles, plus two short-range air-to-air missiles for self-defense. Medium range air-to-air missiles need active radar guidance, which is not a problem at present. The short-range air-to-air missile can be used for conventional infrared guidance, or even infrared imaging active radar combined guidance, with stronger range and anti stealth capabilities. It would be more ideal if it could be equipped with the next generation of medium and near dual-use, infrared imaging active radar Dual-mode Guidance and only half the size and weight of modern mainstream medium range missiles.

It is not necessary to turn on the radar to search for ambush in air combat, but mainly depends on the long-range data link guidance, or the airborne passive electronic reconnaissance capability, which is more likely to be a combination of the two. The attack-20 itself is also an intelligence platform. Several attack-20 can support each other by networking with the rear warning aircraft or super J-15. The disadvantage of passive electronic reconnaissance capability is that it is difficult to accurately measure the distance. Long-distance guidance (in fact, it can be many data sources, including other attack-20 and all data sources in the combat cloud) has the problem of insufficient accuracy. However, the integration of the two data through advanced algorithms is possible to obtain the accuracy of fire control level, which is the advantage of informatization and Networking: in data integrity The independent data errors are compensated by each other, and finally the synthetic data with the error lower than the source data is obtained. The source data with errors can be regarded as a data cloud, the size of which is determined by the errors, but the intersection of overlapping clouds is smaller than that of each individual member cloud, of course, the actual mathematics is not so simple.

The attack-20 with intelligence support can linger in the distance of hundreds or thousands of kilometers, stand by during long voyage, hunt and kill enemy aircraft by surprise or by surprise, or conceal high-value enemy aircraft (such as early warning aircraft, fuel dispenser, transport aircraft, anti submarine aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft, ISR aircraft, etc.) close to the known trend, and kill them.

Boeing has previously proposed a similar concept, using ea-18g growler to carry out air strike missions with drones

In fleet air defense operations, it can be used as a missile truck under the command of early warning aircraft and super J-15 to quickly launch and intercept incoming missiles and enemy aircraft. At this time, stealth is not important, a large amount of ammunition and a long time to stay empty is more important.

Needless to say, the tactical and operational capabilities of the attack-20 will far exceed those of any existing Chinese combat aircraft. It may be necessary for the hanger of the weapon cabin inside the aircraft to be able to close the weapon cabin door inside the aircraft to reduce the impact on the aerodynamic shape when turning over to the outside like the hanger of the side bomb cabin of the j-20. This will not be mainly for the consideration of launch preparation, but for the convenience of hanging large-scale ammunition outside the aircraft, or large-scale special mission pod, after all, the size of the weapon cabin inside the aircraft is limited. As long as necessary, detachable hangers can be added under the wing to mount additional ammunition.

Long endurance and heavy load are also suitable for refitting the attack-20 into special carrier based aircraft such as early warning, professional electronic warfare, anti submarine, etc. the potential of the long-range ISR of the attack-20 is self-evident, but refitting it into a tanker may be of limited value due to insufficient load capacity.

As a carrier aircraft, the requirement of attack-20 is much higher than attack-11. The aircraft carrier has limited manpower and space, and the mission radius is much larger than the attack-11. There is no way to remotely control everything, only relying on a high degree of autonomy. This may be a greater challenge than pneumatic, structural, and engine. The U.S. Navy also gave up the combat oriented x-47b and changed it to mq-25 for service support.

But the technical problem is only part of it, which is not a problem that can be solved by building a car behind closed doors. It can only be solved through a lot of practice. The attack-11 launched by China is making China gain a lot of practical experience quickly. The bigger problem is investment. The U.S. defense spending has always been far more than Chinas, but the structure and efficiency of U.S. defense spending is also greatly different from Chinas, with much higher daily operation and personnel spending, and much lower R & D and production efficiency. Its not advisable to overtake the United States blindly. We need to do something or not. Long range UCAVs are exactly where we should do something, especially now that China has taken the first step.

Sea four or even sea five need to be developed eventually, but super J-15 can win precious transition time. In the near future, the attack-20 will be able to solve the urgent problem of Chinas aircraft carriers insufficient strike capability, to a certain extent, the problem of insufficient long-range ISR and air hunting capability, as well as the special needs of anti submarine and electronic warfare, and pave the way for further research and development of larger, heavier and more advanced manned unmanned quasi strategic strike aircraft. This is of great significance to the Chinese Navy and the Chinese air force, and it should be focused on research and development.

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