Category Archives: Fifth Generation Combat Aircraft

A Chinese Stealth Challenge? Beginning of Stealth Arms Race

Several experts said the prototype's body appeared to borrow from the F-22 and other U.S. stealth aircraft, but they couldn't tell from the photographs how advanced it was in terms of avionics, composite materials or other key aspects of stealth technology.

I am little busy these days so please hold on a next post in series “Nuclear Power Dilemma” will be up soon. Meanwhile, read the following two pieces appeared in New Scientist and The Wall Street Journal, both making same excuses, and seems to be in highly nervous. China’s J-20, stealth aircraft, is it really stealth or just looked stealthy? One of my posts last year I referenced to one Chinese military source citing the revelation of stealth aircraft and aircraft carrier by China. Though the quoted time I put was around 10 years according to Chinese authorities, but this I don’t really think is applicable. From my opinion, China is still far away in stealth arms race, however, I really do hope that J-20 is in real a handy stealth aircraft and waiting anxiously for more on the issue. Anyway, have a read, I will soon update the blog with my recent post.

Has China’s new jet launched a stealth arms race?

New Scientist

China’s first flight test of its new high-tech J-20 stealth military jet on 11 January has drawn a lot of attention, particularly because it came during the visit of US defense secretary Robert Gates. What it means is another question, and the answers are complex. Military analysts had known China was developing a combat plane in the class of the US F-22 Raptor stealth fighter, but they had not expected it to make its first appearance in December, Aviation Week and Space Technology reported. Several high-speed ground tests, in which the craft’s front wheel rose off the ground, preceded the first flight.

China has released videos of the new jet on the ground, taking off, and landing at Chengdu. The New York Times quoted a Hong Kong analyst as saying the plane flew for 15 minutes over the airfield. With two distinctive angled tail fins like those of the F-22, it’s clearly intended to be stealthy. The Times also reports it is intended carry missiles and fly long distances when refueled in the air. The demonstration worries some analysts because it’s the first aircraft to challenge the performance of the F-22, the top of the US air force’s fleet. “We have become accustomed to a world where our air power is dominant,” Rand Corporation analyst Roger Cliff told Newsweek. “But that dominance is now in question.” Once the J-20 is deployed, in that scenario, US top guns would lose their high-performance stealth advantage and no longer rule the skies. o so fast, says Aviation Week. New, more powerful radars using active electronically scaled arrays can pick up fainter and fainter targets, and are fast catching up to stealth technology. “Anti-stealth will bring into question all stealth designs,” it says, hinting that the US may already have airborne radars able to spot stealth aircraft.

Moreover, perfecting stealth technology takes time. The US started its F-22 programme in the 1980s. To an experienced eye, the stealthy look of the Chinese jet “is just sort of cobbled together,” Teal group analyst Richard Aboulafia told The Wall Street Journal . He thinks China may be able to deploy the new aircraft in a decade, but by then the US should have better technology.

That sounds eerily familiar. We used to call it an arms race.

Actual Article

China’s J-20 Fighter: Stealthy or Just Stealthy-Looking?

The Wall Street Journal

When the First grainy images of China’s J-20 fighter appeared online, they seemed to confirm the fears of some China watchers: Beijing appeared to be on track to develop a “fifth generation” aircraft that featured the radar-eluding properties of advanced U.S. aircraft like the F-22 Raptor. But exactly how stealthy is the J-20? And does it mean that China can challenge the U.S. for control of the skies? In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst with the Teal Group, an aerospace and defense consulting firm, said China is still years away from perfecting stealth aircraft. “It’s certainly stealthy-looking,” Mr. Aboulafia said. It looks like it’s got some of the faceting and some of the shaping that characterizes the front of the F-22, for example. “But then you look the details and you realize this thing is just sort of cobbled together,” he added. Take, for instance, the canards: forewings close to the nose of the aircraft that provide maneuverability. According to Mr. Aboulafia, “There’s no better way of guaranteeing a radar reflection and compromise of stealth” than adding canards to the aircraft. The same goes for the engine nozzles, which Mr. Aboulafia said were clearly not designed to be stealthy, as well the large overall size of the aircraft. Still, appearance of the J-20 prototype was a dramatic prelude to Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington this week. But Mr. Aboulafia said that China still lacks the command-and-control networks, aerial refueling capabilities and other systems that allow the U.S. to project air power around the globe. What China does seem to be on track to produce, Mr. Aboulafia said, were aircraft that may eventually be on par with fighters like the F-22, which was designed by the U.S. in the 1980s. “It’s quite possible that in 10 years they have a functioning equivalent of the F-22, but by then, the West will have moved on to something far more impressive,” he said.

Actual Article

China’s New Stealth Race

And off-course don’t forget to hit a review of China’s New Stealth Race, first published after appearance of J-20 on TV on Wall Street Journal U.S. officials played down Chinese advances on the plane, which American intelligence agencies believe will likely be operational around 2018. “We are aware that the Chinese have recently been conducting taxi tests and there are photos of it,” said Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan. “We know they are working on a fifth-generation fighter but progress appears to be uneven.” China has made rapid progress in developing a capability to produce advanced weapons, also including unmanned aerial vehicles, after decades of importing and reverse engineering Russian arms. The photographs throw a fresh spotlight on the sensitive issue of China’s military modernization just as Washington and Beijing try to improve relations following a series of public disputes in 2010. The Chinese prototype looks like it has “the potential to be a competitor with the F-22 and to be decisively superior to the F-35,” said Mr. Fisher. The J-20 has two engines, like the F-22, and is about the same size, while the F-35 is smaller and has only one engine. China’s stealth-fighter program has implications also for Japan, which is considering buying F-35s, and for India, which last month firmed up a deal with Russia to jointly develop and manufacture a stealth fighter.

Wrap Up

The J-20 currently has two prototypes for test flight. One use the Russian AL-31 engines, and the other use the Chinese WS-10G engines, which are newer and provide more thrust. The Chinese counterpart of the X-37B, named “Shenlong”, did make the maiden flight in 2010. The program is very secretive and rarely known to the outside world. The entire J-20 project were created to defeat the F-22, and chances are, if a common analyst can think of a problem, real aerospace engineers would have thought of it too, and then found a solution. America had a head start, with post war German technology and brainpower transfer taking a large portion of the credit, however head start will only give you the lead for a while, its the smarter ones that’ll lead int he long run. As Professor Keith Hayward, Head of Research, Royal Aeronautical Society, notes in an upcoming analysis of the Chinese aerospace industry for the February issue of Aerospace International magazine: “China’s wider commercial relationships with developing world states are also providing useful leverage in forging deals.” China, then wants to move from just producing aircraft for its own domestic consumption, and a red-hot product like the J-20 could help it achieve this, far more than any slightly overweight A320 lookalike like the C919. Furthermore, with ‘Western-equivalent’ Chinese AAMs missiles to ‘bundle’ it with, any nation buying a J-20 would get an extremely capable weapon system – that will be ‘good enough’ for the majority of air forces and cheap enough to buy in siginficant numbers. Engines, too, are as of the moment an unknown. Previously reliant on Russia for engines any, development in powerplants would signify a greater leap forward than the pure airframe and some analysts have suggested a new Chinese engine, the Shenyang WS 15 may power the J-20. However, notably the J-20 also uses a divertless supersonic intake (DSI) and is only the third aircraft to sport this feature after the F-35 and Pakistan Air Force’s JF-17, suggesting that Chinese experience with this technology has been successful so far and it has brought benefits. armament China is now making great strides in guided weapons of all types. Its AMRAAM-type AAM, the PL-12, reportedly outranges the original US weapon. A short-range dogfight missile, the PL-ASR has been described as ‘very scary’ by one western missile expert. Meanwhile China is reported to be working on a long-range ramjet powered missile – the PL-13 comparable to Europe’s MBDA Meteor which, if introduced today, would outrange anything in the (white) US inventory. In short, Western missile experts in private are noticeably rattled by this progress and maintain that any gap in quality between western and Chinese air-to-air weaponry is fast closing.I sincerely hope best for J-20, by no means argue with Chinese abilities to compete in stealth race.

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Agile Beams: Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars

AESAs aim their "beam" by broadcasting radio energy that interfere constructively at certain angles in front of the antenna. They improve on the older passive electronically scanned radars by spreading their broadcasts out across a band of frequencies, which makes it very difficult to detect over background noise. AESAs allow ships and aircraft to broadcast powerful radar signals while still remaining stealthy. Above is AESA on F22

The AN/APG-77 is a multifunction radar installed on the F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft. It is one of the most advanced radar today. More than 100 APG-77 AESA radars have been produced to date by Northrop Grumman, and much of the technology developed for the APG-77 is being used in the APG-81 radar for the F-35 Lightning II. The APG-77v1 was installed on F-22 Raptors from Lot 5 and on. This provided full air-to-ground functionality (high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mapping, ground moving target indication and track (GMTI/GMTT), automatic cueing and recognition, combat identification, and many other advanced features).

APG-77 is based on Active Electronically Steered Array (AESA) technology. The AESA includes multiple individual active transmit/receive (T/R) elements within the antenna. Depending upon the precise implementation, there may be anywhere between 1000 and 2000 of these individual T/R elements which, together with the RF feed, comprise the AESA antenna. As for the passive ESA, these elements are highly redundant and the radar can continue to operate with a sizeable percentage of the devices inoperative. This graceful redundancy feature means that the radar antenna is extremely reliable; it has been claimed that an AESA antenna will outlast the host aircraft. The fact that the transmitter elements reside in the antenna itself means there is no standalone transmitter – there is an exciter but that is all. As before, there is clearly a need for a receiver as well as an RDP and signal processor. The active T/R elements are controlled in the same way as the phase shifters on the passive ESA, either by using a beam-steering computer (BSC) or by embedding the beam-steering function in the RDP.

The ability to control many individual T/R modules by software means confers the AESA with immense flexibility of which only a few examples are: First each radiating element may be controlled in terms of amplitude and phase, and this provides superior beam-shaping capabilities for advanced radar modes such as terrainfollowing, synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and inverse SAR (ISAR) modes. Secondly Multiple independently steered beams may be configured using partitioned parts of the multidevice array. Thirdly If suitable care is taken in the design of the T/R module, independent steerable beams operating on different frequencies may be accommodated and Finally The signal losses experienced by the individual T/R cell approach used in the AESA also bring considerable advantages in noise reduction, and this is reflected in improved radar performance.

The AN/APG-80 system is described as "agile beam", and can perform air-to-air, search-and-track, air-to-ground targeting and aircraft terrain-following functions simultaneously and for multiple targets. As a SAR system utilizing NG's fourth-generation transmitter/receiver technologies, it has a higher reliability and twice the range of older, mechanically-scanned AN/APG-68 radar systems. Above is F-16 APG-80 Radar

One dramatic improvement is the noise figure; it is especially significant achieving such an improvement so early in the RF front end. This results in a remarkable range improvement for the AESA radar. A number of US fighter aircraft are being fitted or retrofitted with AESA radars, these are F-22 Raptor, F-18E/F (Upgrade version) fitted with AN/APG-79, F-16E/F (Block 60) fitted with AN/APG-80, F-15 and F-35 fitted with AN/APG-81. Taking for example F-16, it is interesting to see a dofference in performance between two batches (Block 50) and Block 60. Former had target detection radar range of 50 miles, which was improved to 70 miles with AESA radards (for reference F-22 covers 125miles range). The F-16 Block 60 (now the F-16E/F) shows an improvement from 45 to 70 nm (þ55%), while the F-15C range has increased from 60 to 90 nm (þ50%). Apart from the obvious improvement in range, it has been stated by a highly authentic source that AESA radar confers 10–30 times more in radar operational capability compared with a conventional radar (Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force, 2001).

The F-16E (single seat) and F-16F (two seat) are newer F-16 variants. The Block 60 version is based on the F-16C/D Block 50/52 and has been developed especially for the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It features improved AN/APG-80 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, avionics, conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), and the more powerful GE F110-132 engine. However the batch bought by Pakistan Air Force (F-16C/D) is equipped with AN/APG-68 (V)9 Radar Systems. Only the Block 60 aircraft, destined for the UAE, are to be equipped with a more advanced version – the Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The APG-68(V)9 offers 30 percent increase in detection range, improved search-while-track mode (four vs. two tracked targets) and larger search volume and improved track while scan performance. Its single target track performance has also been improved. On air/ground missions, the new radar becomes an effective sensor, utilizing its high-resolution synthetic aperture radar mode, which allows the pilot to locate and recognize tactical ground targets from considerable distances. Although previous radars had some Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) capabilities, the new version generates imagery-class (2 feet resolution) high resolutions pictures, comparable to pictures delivered by the most modern commercial satellites. These pictures can be acquired from very long range, at all weather conditions and provide an effective, real-time source for the targeting of long range, precision guided weapons. The radar also has increased detection range in sea surveillance mode, and enhanced ground moving target identification and mappinc capability. The radar features an inertial measurement unit that improves dynamic tracking performance and provides an auto-boresight capability, which increases accuracy.


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Nuclear Doctrine of Pakistan: Dilemmas of Small Nuclear Force in the Second Atomic Age

Dilemmas of Small Nuclear Forces, 4-series of articles highlighting the Nuclear Doctrine of Pakistan, its command and control system. The series contain 3 articles: First article (below) explore the Rise of Nuclear Deterrence, Second: is subjected to Post-1998 Doctrinal Contemplation, Third: Confidence-Building Measures between India and Pakistan, and Fourth: concludes with the military objectives of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and highlights from the Nuclear Security Summit 2010.

Pakistan regards its nuclear weapons as its most precious strategic asset which constitutes the ultimate guarantor of nation's existence. This is encapsulated in an article by Gen Mirza Aslam Beg titled 'Pakistan's Nuclear Imperatives' wherein he wrote "Oxygen is basic to life, and one does not debate its desirability, nuclear deterrence has assumed that life-saving property for Pakistan.

A doctrine could be defined as a set of principles formulated and applied for a specific purpose, working towards a desired goal or aim. A nuclear doctrine would consequently consist of a set of principles, and instructions for the employment or non-employment of nuclear weapons and other associated systems. Until 2005, India and Pakistan were the only states outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to declare, openly, their nuclear weapons capability. In 1998, they tested nuclear weapons and since then, deployed ballistic missiles, enunciated nuclear doctrine, and made organizational changes to their nuclear establishments. In 2002, they teetered on the brink of war in Kashmir. The second half of this article dilate somewhat the factors that have conceived the concept which has formulated the nuclear doctrine of Pakistan. I certainly believe that in South Asia a balance of power cannot be maintained by conventional means alone. This article endeavours to construct a proto Pakistani nuclear use doctrine from its declaratory and operational postures, in particular from the statements and interviews of the Pakistani political and military leaders and government officials. Initially reflecting upon its pre-1998 nuclear strategy, which has got critical implications for the post-tests doctrinal contemplation.

Pakistan is believed to have been developing a nuclear capability since the early 1970s. In May 1998, Pakistan responded to India’s nuclear tests by testing a series of nuclear weapons and declaring itself a nuclear weapon power. Pakistan, like India, has supported comprehensive disarmament proposals at the United Nations and Conference on Disarmament, but did not join the CTBT for similar reasons as India. Pakistan has proposed a number of bilateral or regional initiatives which India has not supported. These include a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in South Asia and joining the NPT. India opposes these on the grounds that they do not address the nuclear threat India faces from China and the other NWS. Pakistan and India have concluded a number of bilateral confidence building measures including a hot-line agreement and an agreement not to attack each other’s nuclear power facilities.

While all these (including Pakistan, India, North Korea and Israel) small nuclear powers are in the process of developing their nuclear force structures, two key questions that have arisen are: How, when and for what purposes do they plan to use nuclear weapons? And what command. The word “small” here distinguishes these nation and their doctrines from U.S.A, UK, France and Russia. Prime focus is to understand the emerging structure of Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine.

President Barack Obama greets Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington April 12, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

In The Myth of Independence, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (president of Pakistan in December 1971) argued that modern wars should be conceived of as total wars, and in this type of war Pakistan needed nuclear weapons. Bhutto’s thinking, as will be analysed below, had far-reaching impacts on Pakistan’s nuclear strategy, and on its doctrinal contemplation. Soon after assuming Presidency of Pakistan on 20th December 1971 he took the decision to initiate a nuclear weapons project. This decision was taken against the backdrop of three specific factors: firstly, it was a direct consequence of the 1971 war where Pakistan’s conventional inferiority was demonstrated for the third time, at the cost of almost half of its territory; secondly, Pakistani leaders in general (particularly Bhutto) were convinced that India was determined to build a nuclear arsenal; and thirdly, Bhutto believed that only nuclear weapons could guarantee the national survival of Pakistan against the Indian threat.8 It is evident that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project was initiated to deter Indian nuclear as well as conventional aggression, an aim that endured in the subsequent years and today constitutes one of the central pillars of Pakistan’s nuclear use doctrine.

Brass Tacks Crisis – First Nuclear Deterrence Posture [1986-1987]

After India and Pakistan held nuclear tests in 1998, experts have debated whether their nuclear weapons contribute to stability in South Asia. Experts who argue that the nuclear standoff promotes stability have pointed to the U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War as an example of how deterrence ensures military restraint.

First employment of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent stratagy was during the 1986-1987 brasstacks crisis between India and Pakistan. With the crisis peaking in January 1987, India had deployed 400,000 troops, or about half the Indian army, within 100 miles of Pakistan. It began when India had launched the largest ever military exercises in the subcontinent, called Operation Brass Tacks. The exercise would take place not in India’s far north, where the always tense state of Kashmir is located, but in the desert area of Rajastan, a few hundred miles from the Pakistani border, which, a the Pakistani government was sure to note, was and ideal location from which to launch a cross border operation into the Pakistani state of Sindh that could cut Pakistan in half. The exercises included bulk of Indian Army, and was comprised of the nine infantry, three mechanised, three armoured and one air assault divisions, and three armoured brigades under four corps HQ with all theparaphernalia for a real war, concentrated on Pakistan’s sensitive border areas. This was bigger than any NATO exercise – and the biggest since World War II. Also planned was an ambitious amphibious operation by the Indian Navy with one division, in Korangi area of Karachi. Another feature of the exercise was a decision by General Sundarji to integrate Indias special weapons, including tactical nuclear into day-to day field maneuvers of the troops.

Pakistani military analysts saw Brass Tacks as a threatening exhibition of an overwhelming conventional force. Some even suspected that India wanted to launch swift surgical strikes at the Sikh terrorists’ training and planning sites inside Pakistan. Pakistan responded with maneuvers of its own that were located close to India’s state of Punjab. The crisis atmosphere was heightened when Pakistan’s premier nuclear scientist Abdul Qadir Khan revealed in a March 1987 interview that Pakistan had manufactured a nuclear bomb. Although Khan later retracted his statement, India stated that the disclosure was “forcing us to review our option.” Interview by Dr A.Q Khan’s interview to Indian journalist, Kuldip Nayar records:

what the CIA has been saying about our possessing the bomb is correct and so is the speculation of some foreign newspapers … They told us that Pakistan could never produce the bomb and they doubted my capabilities, but they now know we have done it … Nobody can undo Pakistan or take us for granted. We are there to stay and let it be clear that we shall use the 10 bomb if our existence is threatened.

Formal and impromptu talks between the leaders of the two countries finally resulted in a number of new CBMs between India and Pakistan. These were important and covered a number of areas. For example, the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations and Facilities was signed on December 31, 1988, in Islamabad by the two foreign secretaries and witnessed by the two prime ministers, Rajiv Gandhi and Benazir Bhutto, respectively. Earlier fears of impending attack on the facilities resulting in an all-out war fed the need for the agreement.

Kashmir – Second Nuclear Deterrence Posture [1990]

Kashmir has been a flashpoint since Indian and Pakistani independence in 1947. Many analysts have feared that nuclear weapons could be used if conventional hostilities over Kashmir were to spiral out of control, especially if, as in 1965 Indo-Pakistan conflict

Pakistan again advanced a nuclear deterrent posture in 1990 in the context of a spiralling crisis over the disputed territory of Kashmir, which developed against the backdrop of an acute separatist insurgency in the Indian. Reportedly, New Delhi planned for surgical air strikes against the militant training camps inside Pakistani territory, which prompted Islamabad to assemble a crude nuclear bomb and modify several American supplied F-16 aircrafts for its delivery. The crisis was eventually averted through diplomatic intervention from Washington, but Islamabad firmly believed that Pakistan’s deterrence posture prevented India from carrying out the planned strike. This crisis also marked the emergence of a nascent mutual nuclear deterrence in the Indo-Pakistani context.

Command and Control of Nuclear Deterrence

What did emerge during this period, primarily in the context of the 1986-87 Brasstacks crisis and the 1990 Kashmir episode, was a general notion of nuclear deterrence, which implied that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons to counter India’s nuclear as well as conventional aggression. to build a robust nuclear command structure. However, former Army chief of staff General Mirza Aslam Beg has claimed that the Pakistani leadership realised the necessity of establishing a command structure,

given the tension, mutual mistrust and suspicion between India and Pakistan, it is dangerously tempting for each to launch an attack before being attacked which could escalate to a nuclear level.

Bhutto had established a National Nuclear Command Authority (NNCA) in the 1970s, which institutionalised the nuclear decision-making and assumed the responsibility of developing a nuclear force structure and appropriate alert posture. (‘NNCA Responsible for Safeguarding Nuclear Programme, The News, 2 June 1998).

Pakistan Nuclear Capabilities and Thinking

Most observers (SIPRI Yearbook 1995, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 1998) estimate that Pakistan has enough nuclear material (highly enriched uranium and a small amount of plutonium) for 30 to 50 nuclear weapons. Like India, Pakistan is thought to have a small stockpile of nuclear weapons components and can probably assemble some weapons fairly quickly. Pakistan could deliver its nuclear weapons using F-16s (shown above) it purchased from the United States provided the appropriate “wiring” has been added to make them nuclear-capable. In the 1980s, Pakistan moved assiduously to acquire ballistic missile capabilities and now deploys short-range ballistic missiles and a small number of medium-range missiles. AQ Khan, former head of Khan Research Laboratories, maintained that only the medium-range Ghauri missiles would be usable in a nuclear exchange (given fall-out effects for Pakistan of shorter-range missiles). Other observers view the 30 to 50 Hatf2 short-range (300km) missiles (modified Chinese M-11s) as potential delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons. Ghauri missiles (1350 and 2300km), which reportedly are based on the North Korean No-Dong and Taepo-Dong-1, are capable of reaching New Delhi with large payloads.

It is believed that Because of its fears of being overrun by larger Indian forces, Pakistan has rejected the doctrine of no-first-use. In May 2002, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN, Munir Akram, stated that “We have not said we will use nuclear weapons. We have not said we will not use nuclear weapons. We possess nuclear weapons. So does India ...We will not neutralize the deterrence by any doctrine of no first use

On June 4, 2002, President Musharraf went a step further then his UN ambassador sna stated that: “The possession of nuclear weapons by any state obviously implies they will be used under some circumstances. In recent years, Pakistan apparently has taken steps toward refining command and control of nuclear weapons. In April 1999, General Musharraf announced that the Joint Staff Headquarters would have a command and control arrangement and a secretariat, and a strategic force command would be established. With some experience and the passage of time a degree of sophistication will certainly be introduced in Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine of the first-use of nuclear weapons to provide the government more options in the use of nuclear weapons. This would also avoid unessential collateral damage to cities and other population centres in both countries. The object would be to employ nuclear weapons if attacked yet cause the least civilian casualties and damage to infrastructure.


Escalation Control in South Asia,’ in Escalation Control and Nuclear Option in South Asia, eds M. Krepon, R. W. Jones, and Z. Haider, The Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, D.C., 2004, p. 89.
Z. A. Bhutto, The Myth of Independence, Oxford University Press, Lahore, 1969, p. 153.
B. Chakma, ‘Road to Chagai: Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme, Its Sources and Motivations, Modern Asian Studies, vol. 36, no. 4, 2002, p. 887.
P. Hoodbhoy, ‘Nuclear Deterrence – An Article of Faith,’ The News (Rawalpindi), 17 March 1993.
‘NNCA Responsible for Safeguarding Nuclear Programme, Says Beg,’ The News, 2 June 1998.
S. H. Hasan, ‘Command and Control of Nuclear Weapons in Pakistan,’ Swords and Ploughshares, vol. 9, no. 1, 1994, p. 13.

Images: Title: Nicholson cartoon (, and Reuters

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E-Bomb – Direct Energy Warfare

6th Generation Aircraft - Airforces to End the Desire for Pilots

The rules of battle have changed over the entirety of military history. Tools such as technology, strategy, tactics and weapons have been the principal elements determining what kind of rules apply to the battlefield. What can consititute to a sixth generation fighter jets – Thats the question I am asking myself since past week. Although it might be too early to think of these questions, when even planes like JSf, PAK-FA or F-22 are not even fully opertional. The contemporary military rivalry is driven mostly by the ongoing military technical revolution. In particular, the weapons used on the future battlefield will play an important role in military affairs. Which weapons can play a key role in the future? I will try not to be too technical, such that the article is applicable to general public as well, however, I have included the research papers and appropriate links for those intending to explore more about E-Bombs or Electromagnetic Weapon Systems.

Sixth generation jet fighters are currently conceptual and expected to enter service in the United States Air Force and United States Navy in 2025-2030 timeframe. The technological characteristics may include the combination of fifth generation aircraft capabilities with unmanned capibility, unrefueled combat radius greater than 1000 nm and Direct Energy Weapon. It is latter which is a subject of this article. One form of this energy is Electronic Bomb (E-Bomb). This article aim to explore the technical aspects and potential capabilities of this type of bomb, target measurements and its comparison with other form of electromagnectic weaponry.

Research has shown that it is possible to develop such kind of device. Directed Energy research originated with research work done to determine the impact to important military systems operating in harsh electromagnetic environments. One of the most threatening and pervasive of all electromagnetic threats is that due to electromagnetic pulse.

These pulses can burst of electromagnetic radiation that results from an explosion (usually from the detonation of a nuclear weapon) and/or a suddenly fluctuating magnetic field. However, its not only the nuclear weapon who generates these pulses, Non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NNEMP) is an electromagnetic pulse generated without use of nuclear weapons. There are a number of devices that can achieve this objective, ranging from a large low-inductance capacitor bank discharged into a single-loop antenna or a microwave generator to an explosively pumped flux compression generator. To achieve the frequency characteristics of the pulse needed for optimal coupling into the target, wave-shaping circuits and/or microwave generators are added between the pulse source and the antenna. A vacuum tube particularly suitable for microwave conversion of high energy pulses is the vircator. These HEMP induced stresses can damage or severely disrupt some electronic systems, which are sensitive to transient disturbance. Significant potential damaging effects can occur at long ranges to virtually all systems located within line-of-sight of the detonation point. Thus it is feasible to say, that NNEMP generators can be carried as a payload of bombs and cruise missiles, allowing construction of electromagnetic bombs with diminished mechanical, thermal and ionizing radiation effects and without the political consequences of deploying nuclear weapons.

The fact that an electromagnetic pulse is produced by a nuclear explosion was known since the earliest days of nuclear weapons testing, but the magnitude of the EMP and the significance of its effects were not realized for some time. As a result of the test, a very short but extremely intense electromagnetic pulse was observed. This pulse propagated away from its source with a decreasing intensity, which is also to be expected according to the theory of electromagnetism.

According to the CBS reports dated March 2003 stated the application of experimental EM Pulse:

The U.S. Air Force hit Iraqi TV with an experimental electromagnetic pulse device called the “E-Bomb” in an attempt to knock it off the air and shut down Saddam Hussein’s propaganda machine. The highly classified bomb created a brief pulse of microwaves powerful enough to fry computers, blind radar, silence radios, trigger crippling power outages and disable the electronic ignitions in vehicles and aircraft. Officially, the Pentagon does not acknowledge the weapon’s existence.

Direct Energy Warfare

Military action involving the use of directed-energy weapons, devices, and countermeasures to either cause direct damage or destruction of enemy equipment, facilities, and personnel, or to determine, exploit, reduce, or prevent hostile use of the electromagnetic spectrum through damage, destruction, and disruption. The defensive part of Electronic Warfare includes the offensive actions such as preventing the enemy’s use of the electromagnetic spectrum through counter measures such as damaging, disrupting, or destructing the enemy’s electromagnetic capability. Such weaponry (DEW) is an evolving addition to the EW.

Characteristics of Direct Energy Weapons

The most common characteristics of the direct energy weapons is that they attack at the Speed of Light. This pose some advantage over conventional weaponry, This helps in defeating targets
such as theater and ballistic missiles before they can deploy defense-saturating sub-munitions. Another advantage of such weapons is that they can be used against multiple targets at the same time. The direct energy weapons are classified into four catagories; High Power Microwave (HPM), Charged Particle Beams (CPB), Neutral Particle Beams (NPB) and High Energy Laser (HEL). It is the latter which is highly potential for military applications (both stratagic and tactical missions). However, for E-Bomb it is HPM is a base. But offcourse when compared to Laser technology, the microwave technology lags in terms of research. HPM – use electromagnetic radiation to deliver heat, mechanical, or electrical energy to a target to cause various, sometimes very subtle, effects. When used against equipment, directed electromagnetic energy weapons can operate similarly to omnidirectional electromagnetic pulse (EMP) devices, by inducing destructive voltage within electronic wiring. The difference is that they are directional and can be focused on a specific target using a parabolic reflector. High-energy radio frequency weapons (HERF) or high-power radio frequency weapons (HPRF) use high intensity radio waves to disrupt electronics. However, High and low power, Pulsed Microwave devices use low-frequency microwave radiation which can be made to closely mimic and interact with normal human brain waves having similar frequencies. Although belong to the same family of technology, the E-Bomb deployment differes from that of HPM.

Potential for Aircraft Operations

Scleher, D. Curtis in Electronic warfare in the information age, has defined the potential of these kind of weapons for Aircraft Operations. DEWs have great potential for aircraft operations since crews can enhance their own survivability in the battlefield, where the aircrafts are susceptible and vulnerable to missile threats, by protecting themselves with electromagnetic shields. In such environment, DEW systems may prevent the aircraft from threats by decreasing the detection and targeting capability of enemy. They may also aid in hit avoidance by deflecting, blinding, or causing the incoming missile to break lock and finally, where necessary, to destroy the missile itself before it reaches its target. An additional approach might be to defeat the fusing system of the incoming missile. However, when deploying these bombs, getting the projectile successfully right is the key, such that useful damage can be produced. Further information about the deployment of these DEWs can be accessed from Electronic warfare in the information age. By this stage one difference between HPM and E-bomb is apparanet, despite belonging to same technological family, and this difference is their deployment. HEMP – High Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse is not a directed energy weapon. The reason why HEMP is defined as an electromagnetic weapon is that it produces similar effects in electromagnetic spectrum and can cause similar impacts on electronic devices. The potential effects of a designed HPM weapon strongly depends on the electromagnetic properties of the target. Since it is difficult to get the required intelligence, the complexity of real systems poses technical difficulties. A typical HPM weapon system basically includes a prime source that generates the intended power, an RF generator, a system that shapes and forms the wave into the intended form, a waveguide through which the generated wave travel, an antenna that propagated the wave, and the control unit that manages all the steps.

AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon l

Delivery system considerations for E-bombs are very important. The massed application of such electromagnetic weapons in the opening phase of an electronic battle delivered at the proper instant or location can quickly lead the superiority in the electromagnetic spectrum. This package might mean a major shift from physically lethal weaponry to electronically lethal attacks (via e-bombs) as a preferred mode of operation. Potential platforms for such weapons delivery systems are AGM-154 JSOW (Joint Stand Off Weapon) glidebomb (shown above) and the B-2 bomber (shown below). The attractiveness of glidebombs delivering HPM warheads is that the weapon can be released from outside the effective radius of target air defenses, minimizing the risk to the launch aircraft, which can stay clear of the bomb’s electromagnetic effects.

B2-Bomber refueling

Another delivery method of e-bomb may be the use of UAVs. The technology of UAVs is still developing and partly immature; however, improvements can be expected in the next decade.

The e-bomb targets mission essential electronic systems such as the computers used in data processing systems, communications systems, displays, industrial control applications, including road and rail signaling, and those embedded in military equipment, such as signal processors, electronic flight controls and digital engine control systems. I must point out that when e-bomb outputs are too weak to destroy these systems but strong enough to disrupt their operations, system performance can be degraded. The relation between the altitude (shown below) where the e-bomb is detonated and a representation of the lethality range. Target information (to include location and vulnerability) becomes an important issue.

E-Bomb Footprint: Source <a href="">Carlo Kopp</a>

E-Bomb – Science Fiction or a Fact?

Sor, can this hypothetical e-bomb be a significant weapon for the future battlefield? Theoratically, the military advantage obtainable with e-bombs is related mostly to their operational significance. Will future battlefields will be won by the countries that best manage the revolution in military affairs or technological revolution? If latter is the case, then one has to remind himself that technology is not a winner on its own, but it has been, and it will continue to be, a critical enabler. If everything else is equal, the side with better technology will win. Finally, can the country that first develops this new weapon have a significant and exploitable military advantage against other powers? Is is feasible for a nation to invest in this kind of bomb ? – The Debate Continues

As I have mentioned earlier, this piece is not research but infact just collection of some work, to explore the potential of EM technology in modern warfare as well as extending our previous discussion of Electronic Warfare For further reading about the subject I strongly suggest to read the following researches

Kopp, C. 1993. A doctrine for the use of electromagnetic pulse bombs. Air Power Studies Centre. Paper No. 15.
Kopp, C. 1996. An introduction to the technical and operational aspects of the electromagnetic bomb. Air Power Studies Centre. Paper No. 50.
Kopp, C. 2006. Directed Energy Weapons-Part 1. Defense Today May/June Publication.
Mazarr, Michael J. 1993. Military Technical Revolution-A Structural Framework. Center for Strategic and International Studies. Washington, D.C.
Scleher, D. Curtis. 1999. Electronic warfare in the information age. Boston: Artech House.

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Electronic Warfare Operations – Part I

O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence hold the enemy’s fate in our hands. – Sun Tzu (The Art of War)

Wedgetail Flares Test

The advant of technology and understanding the control of electronmagnetic specturm (EM) has taken the description of warfare to another level. Modern military forces rely heavily on a variety of complex, high technology, electronic offensive and defensive capabilities. EW is a specialized tool that enhances many air and space functions at multiple levels of conflict. Modern weapons and support systems employ radio, RADAR, infrared, laser, optical and electro-optical technologies. Modern military systems, such as the E-8C joint surveillance, target attack radar system (JSTARS), rely on access to the electromagnetic spectrum to accomplish their missions. So what exactly Electronic Warfare is?

EW is any military action involving the use of the EM spectrum to include directed energy (DE) to control the EM spectrum or to attack an enemy. This is not limited to radio or radar frequencies but includes IR, visible, ultraviolet, and other less used portions of the EM spectrum. As giving air and ground forces a superiority – the application of EW was seen in Operation Desert Storm (Gulf War) – Where self-protection, standoff, and escort jamming, and antiradiation attacks, significantly contributed to the Air Force’s success. Within the information operations (IO) construct, EW is an element of information warfare; more specifically, it is an element of offensive and defensive counterinformation. Electronic Warfare comprises of three main components: Electronic Attack – Electronic Protection – and finally Electronic Warfare Support, all includes the integrated Information Operations (IO).

Key to Electronic Warfare success is the control of Electromagnetic Spectrum Control. This is usually achieved by protecting friendly systems and attacking adversary systems. In reference to above mentioned three components of EW – Electronic Attack, limits adversary use of the electronic spectrum; – Electronic Protection – protects the use of the electronic spectrum for friendly forces, and Electronic Warfare Support – enables the commander’s accurate estimate of the situation in the operational area. All three must be carefully integrated to be effective. Friendly forces must prepare to operate in a nonpermissive EM environment and understand EW’s potential to increase force effectiveness.

Electronic Warfare for Air Forces

Air Force electronic warfare strategy embodies the art and science of employing military assets to improve operations through control of the EM spectrum. An effective EW strategy requires an integrated mix of passive, disruptive, and destructive systems to protect friendly weapon systems, components, and communications-electronics systems from the enemy’s threat systems. During the Gulf War, EF-111 RAVENS were used successfully against Iraqi radars and communications facilities. Conflicts in Vietnam and the Middle East provided deadly reminders of the necessity for effective EW against advanced threats and of the intense effort required to counter these threats. Current technology has given rise to new enemy capabilities, which includes the use of microwave and millimeter wave technologies, lasers, electro-optics, digital signal processing, and programmable and adaptable modes of operation.

Douglas B-66 Destroyer during Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War EB-66 was used against terminal threat radars, surface to air missiles (SAM) and anti aircraft artillery (AAA) as well as used as stand-off jamming platforms. EB-66 modified version of U.S light bomber B-66 Destroyer (shown above). The RB-66C was a specialized electronic reconnaissance and ECM aircraft with an expanded crew of seven, including additional electronics warfare experts. A total of 36 of these aircraft were built with the additional crew members housed in what was the camera/bomb bay of other variants. RB-66C aircraft had distinctive wingtip pods and were used in the vicinity of Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and later over Vietnam. In 1966, these were redesignated EB-66C. After the retirement of B-66, General Dynamics/Grumman EF-111A (shown below) Raven came to play the role. EF-111A Raven was an electronic warfare aircraft designed to replace the obsolete B-66 Destroyer in the United States Air Force. Its crews and maintainers often called it the “Spark-Vark”, a play on the F-111’s “Aardvark” then nickname.

An EF-111A Raven aircraft supplies radar jamming support while enroute to Eglin Air Force Base during the multi-service Exercise SOLID SHIELD '87.

EF-111A achieved initial operational capability, in 1983 EF-111s first saw combat use with the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Upper Heyford during Operation El Dorado Canyon in 1986 (retaliatory attack on Libya), Operation Just Cause in 1989. The EF-111A served in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. On 17 January 1991, a USAF EF-111 crew: Captain James Denton and Captain Brent Brandon (“Brandini”) archived an unofficial kill against an Iraqi Dassault Mirage F1, which they managed to maneuver into the ground, making it the only member of the F-111/FB-111/EF-111 family to achieve an aerial victory over another aircraft.

Operational Concepts

The effective application of electronic warfare in support of mission objectives is critical to the ability to find, fix, track, target, engage, and assess the adversary, while denying that adversary the same ability. Planners, operators, acquisition specialists, and others involved with Air Force EW must understand the technological advances and proliferation of threat systems in order to enable friendly use of the EM spectrum. To control is to dominate the EM spectrum, directly or indirectly, so that friendly forces may exploit or attack the adversary and protect themselves from exploitation or attack. Electronic warfare has offensive and defensive aspects that work in a “movecountermove” fashion. To exploit is to use the electromagnetic spectrum to the advantage of friendly forces. Friendly forces can use detection, denial, disruption, deception, and destruction in varying degrees to impede the adversary’s decision loop. For instance, one may use electromagnetic deception to convey misleading information to an enemy or use an enemy’s electromagnetic emissions to locate and identify the enemy. To enhance is to use EW as a force multiplier. Careful integration of EW into air and space operations will detect, deny, disrupt, deceive, or destroy enemy forces in varying degrees to enhance overall mission effectiveness. Through proper control and exploitation of the EM spectrum, EW functions as a force multiplier and improves the likelihood of mission success.

Billion Dollar Market For Electronic Warfare

Forecast International’s “The Market for Electronic Warfare Systems” projects an estimated $28.4 billion will be spent over the next 10 years on the development and production of the major EW systems. Some 44,807 units of leading Electronic Countermeasures (ECM), Radar Warning Receivers (RWRs), Electronic Support Measures (ESM), and other EW systems that make up this analysis will be produced. The top-ranked EW producers cited in the analysis (out of a total of 22 companies considered) are Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, Raytheon, ITT, and Lockheed Martin. While production of leading missile countermeasures systems has helped position some of these companies at the top of the ranking, others are leading the development of all-important, next-generation technology. It is important to add that today’s EW market leaders are firmly established because of their ability to provide much-needed EW systems for immediate deployment to the battlefield. To cite just one example, despite some defense budget tightening, the Pentagon is expected to spend over $560 million through FY13 on procurement of Northrop Grumman’s Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) system for various Air Force aircraft. The service has declared that its long-range desire is to equip a total of 444 aircraft with the system. The market for systems to defeat improvised explosive devices (IEDs) will also warrant close monitoring in the years ahead. With the recent surge of U.S. troops into Afghanistan, there has also been an increase in the occurrence of IED attacks. To counter these attacks, a competition is currently under way for development of a Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device (RCIED) Electronic Warfare (CREW) 3.3 system of systems. The U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command in October 2009 awarded firm-fixed-price contracts to two companies for CREW 3.3 System of Systems development. ITT Force Protection Systems was awarded $16 million, while Northrop Grumman Space and Mission Systems, Network Communication Systems was awarded $24.3 million. International ventures will also have a significant impact on the EW market through the new decade. The primary platform for ITT’s ALQ-214 Radio Frequency Countermeasures (RFCM) system is the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Through its association with the jet fighter, a potentially growing export market for the ALQ-214 has begun to emerge. For example, the system will equip the F/A-18Fs purchased by Australia a stopgap measure until its F-35 fleet is ready for service.

I will continue the implementation and integration of three major components of Electronic Warfare in my next post. Please do check back


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Game Controllers to Drive Drones

In my previous post of I highlighted the issue of Playstation Mentality Warning that the technology is making target killings much easier and more frequent, a report issued by New York Times raised concerns that drone operators based more than thousand miles away from the battlefield, risk developing a PlayStation mentality towards killing.

War really is getting more like a video game, as hardware and software from the gaming industry is increasingly being adopted for military use. Although evidence of this statement can be found within U.S military camps, but amazingly this Farnborough (F-2010 Air Show) Raytheon showed off its new Universal Control System for robotic aicraft. It’s based on the same technology that drives Halo and Splinter Cell. Amazing Right ? These kind of projects or statements are usually balanced by either cost factor or Human machine Inteferance, since gaming industry is spending millions to develop high definition graphics and user friendly interface, why not put them on UAVs – this saves money to military. Post-1990 time has seen large increase in simulation use for pilot training within civilian and military market. Within civilian, simulations are used to provide airlines with a cost effective training, preventing risks by first time flyers but also its saves fortunes. Now the same arguments can be applied to gaming and warefare industry.

Right now, every military command post and every training center is packed with PCs. In the future, many of those machines might be replaced with game consoles — if the armed forces can ever work out their disagreements with the console-makers. Surveys show that young people now spend more time gaming on consoles than on PCs. It’s the older (well, at least over 30) crowd who prefer to play games on computers, and that crowd is likely to shrink over time. If the Pentagon is going to rely on games, then it makes sense to use a platform designed for games, as well as one that’s familiar to your audience.

UAVs at your door: Call of Duty UAV simulation

Yet the real beauty of consoles, as far as the Army’s game gurus are concerned, isn’t really technical sophistication. More war games are available in market today, then there were few years back. Games like Halo, Warcraft, Conflict: Global Terror, Sniper Elite, America’s Army: Rise of a Soldier, Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, H.A.W.X, Call of Duty and many more. For some reason, a major resurgence of the war-themed videogame has occurred for the this-gen Xbox. Awhile back, you couldn’t miss a Vietnam-era title on the shelf, but now it looks like the World War era is the subject matter of choice. So will the Army go out and buy the Xbox? I don’t know how serious military personal are on buying these consoles, but one thing for sure, if they do buy then there will certainly be a shortage of these consols. Microsoft was concerned that “do we want the Xbox 360 to be seen as having the flavor of a weapon? – Offcourse

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The Buzz on China’s Drones

Chinease Ajain - Dark Sword

Since UAV (or Drones, as known to Asia Pacific) are very much in main-stream these days. So, I had to dedicate some more space within my blog to these unmannes vehicles. In an ongoing Chinease 8th International Airshow – Zhuhai 2010, Chinese commercial and defense aviation companies are exhibiting more than 25 UAV models. That is a record number of UAVs, according to show officials, and continuing evidence of China’s growing interest in unmanned technology. So Chinease are not only competing western industry for civilian or military jets, but UAVs also, as the show reveals. Some of the UAVs will serve as combat and battlefield reconnaissance roles. In one video, a UAV locates a U.S. aircraft carrier and relays the information for a follow-on attack by Chinese anti-ship missiles. Three Chinese companies – ASN Technology Group, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC), and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) produced most of the UAVs on display.

ASN Technology is the largest UAV production company in China, with a history of developing unmanned aerial platforms, including drones, since 1958, said a company press release. The primary customer is the Chinese military and the company controls more than 90 percent of the UAV market in China. ASN showed off 10 different UAVs, including the new ASN-211 Flapping Wing Aircraft System, which simulates a bird in flight. The prototype on display has a take-off weight of only 220 grams with a maximum speed of six-to-10 meters a second and an altitude ranging from 20-200 meters, primarily for low-altitude reconnaissance missions.

The largest UAV on display by the company was the ASN-229A Reconnaissance and Precise Attack UAV. Equipped with a satellite data link, it can perform aerial reconnaissance, battlefield surveys, target location and artillery fire adjustment during the day or night. It has a take-off weight of 800 kilograms and a cruising speed of 160-180 kilometers per hour with an endurance of 20 hours. Weighing in at 800 kg, ASN’s largest system was the armed ASN-229A Reconnaissance and Precise Attack UAV, which is still under development. Able to cruise at 180 km/h, the 5.5 m-long ASN-229A can perform reconnaissance, target location or artillery observation missions via a satellite data-link. Also among the 600 exhibitors were China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) and China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). Both state-owned companies showcased sophisticated missile-armed UAVs. CASC displayed the CH-3 carrying two air-to-ground missiles akin to the AGM-114 Hellfire. This 640 kg medium-range craft with 220 km/h cruising speed is optimised for reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, artillery fire adjustment and electronic warfare, as well as the depicted attack platform.

CASC displayed the CH-3 multipurpose medium-range UAV system suitable for battlefield reconnaissance, artillery fire adjustment, data relay and electronic warfare. A company official said the CH-3 could be modified as an attack platform carrying small precision-guided weapons. Weapons outfitted on the display included two air-to-ground missiles similar in configuration to the U.S.-built Hellfire. CASIC took the prize for UAVs capable of intimidating the U.S. military. These included the jet-powered WJ-600. Aerospace Science and Industry Group, according to the material, WJ-600 can be mounted opto-electronic reconnaissance, synthetic aperture radar, electronic surveillance and other mission equipment, with fast response, and strong penetration ability, and can all-time effect of all-weather reconnaissance and damage assessmenttask, you can also load other types of equipment to achieve the task of ground attack, electronic warfare, information relay, and target simulation and other military tasks. Moreover, this means that WJ-600 drone is capable of trabelling faster than both U.S Predator and Reaper, currently opnerational in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The general speed of the UAV flying only about 30 m/s (58.3 knots), while the WJ-600 can be up to 200 m/s (389 knots – about 100knots greater than U.S MQ-9 Reaper who is equipped with turboprop engine), better on the flight altitude, up to ten thousand meters altitude – thanks to its jet engine. At this stage the project look rather ambitious

Other UAVs displays included a little-known company called Zhuhai X.Y. Aviation, which exhibited two new reconnaissance platforms, the 200-kilogram Blue Arrow (UR-J1-001) and 40 kilogram Sky Eyes (UR-C2-008). A company spokesperson said there were three prototypes of the Blue Arrow now being test-flown and that the prop-driven engine was from an unidentified “German company.”

Closing the UAV Gap

The recent display of 25 UAVs at the Zhuhai was not only the surprise for westeran but also flet by Japan, North and South Korea, and the Taiwanese officials.Drone technology, thus far, has been led by the U.S. and Israel. China now has UAVs that are comparable, although not equal, to the American Predator and Global Hawk. most of the ASN models in use by the Chinese military are older, more like the 1990s technology found in the U.S. Army Shadow 200 (now being replaced by the Predator-like, 1.2 ton Gray Eagle). One of the most numerous Chinese army models, the ASN-206/207, is a 222 kg (488 pound) aircraft, with a 50 kg (110 pound) payload. The 207 model has a max endurance of eight hours, but more common is an endurance of four hours. Max range from the control van is 150 kilometers and cruising speed is about 180 kilometers an hour. A UAV unit consists of one control van and 6-10 trucks, each carrying a UAV and its catapult launch equipment. The UAV lands via parachute, so the aircraft get banged up a lot. A UAV battalion, with ten aircraft, would not be able to provide round the clock surveillance for more than a week, at best. But Chinese planners believe this is adequate.

Sources suggests that many of the Chinese UAVs demonstrate an American influence, some appear to be using Israeli technology. That’s no accident, as four years ago, Israeli UAV manufacturer EMIT got busted after it was caught shipping UAV technology to China. EMIT was not a major player in the UAV industry, having only three models; the 450 kg Butterfly, 182 kg (400 pound) Blue Horizon, the 48 kg (hundred pound) Sparrow. The twenty year old firm has been scrambling to stay in business. The Chinese helped set up a phony cooperative deal in a Southeast Asian country, to provide cover for the transfer of EMIT UAV technology to China. Most of EMIT’s production is for export, but Israel has agreed to consult with the United States about transfers of technology to China. This is because Israel has been caught exporting military equipment, containing American technology, to China (in violation of agreements with the United States.) China tends to get technology wherever, and whenever, it can.

Chinease Xianglong

Two years ago, China revealed that it was developing a new UAV, similar to the U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk. Called Xianglong (Soaring Dragon – shown above), it is about half the size of the Global Hawk (shown below), at 7.5 tons, with a 14.5 meter (45 foot) wingspan and a .65 ton payload. Max altitude will be 18.4 kilometers (57,000 feet) and range will be 7,000 kilometers. It has a faster cruising speed (750 kilometers an hour) than the RQ-4. The Chinese Xianglong is intended for maritime patrol, as is a U.S. Navy model of the RQ-4. The shorter range of the Xianglong is apparently attributable to the lower capabilities of the Chinese aircraft engine industry.

U.S Global Hawk

Interestingly, This year’s models in Zhuhai included several designed to fire missiles, and one powered by a jet engine, meaning it could in theory fly faster than the propeller-powered Predator and Reaper drones that the U.S. has used in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The large number of UAVs on display illustrates clearly that China is investing considerable time and money to develop drone technology, not only that the equation is equally balanced by promoting these products to international market. The implications of this is not only China’s internal security, also this is also an opportunity for nations alike China or Pakistan who have sought in vain to acquire drones either for military purposes or for police surveillance and antiterrorist operations. However, this is of particular concern to the U.S. and Israel, whose drones are unrivalled in the world today, and could worry China’s neighbors. A further details about Chinease buzz on drone technology can be read at the Wall Street Journal who has recently published a detailed resarch about the Chinease catch-up to U.S and Israel.

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