Category Archives: Longbow Radar

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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Filed under Aerobatics, Afghanistan, AGm-113 Hellfire, Air Show China 2010, ASN Technology, ASN Technology, ASN-206/207, ASN-229A UAV, Aviation, Boeing, CASC CH-3, Chengdu Aircraft, China, China Defence, Chinease Defence, Current Affairs, Drone Attacks Pakistan, Drone Technology, Drones, Fifth Generation Combat Aircraft, Flight Global, Global Aviation, Israel, Longbow Radar, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Defence, Pakistan-China, Predator, RQ-4 Global Hawk, SD-10 Missile, U.S Drone Technology, UAV, Wall Street Journal, Xianglong UAV, Zhuhai 2010, Zhuhai Air Show

T-129: New Kid in a Block of Attack Helicopters

T-129 Attack Helicopter

Vey recently Turkey has increased its order for the T129 (shown above) attack helicopter to 60 aircraft, with prime contractor Turkish Aerospace Industries to deliver nine newly ordered examples by mid-2012. When I saw this machine first time, it reminded good old Apache. Is this rotorcraft the Apache for third world countries? Well I don’t know, they might look the same, but they are not same. I am writing this post to prove myself wrong. That T-129 is not cheaper Apache, but infact it has or will have its own place in the market of attack helicopters. Before I proceed I must remind you, that it is same 129 whose prototype crashed on the afternoon of 19 March during a test flight. Early indications point to a loss of power to the tail rotor while flying at an elevation of 1,500ft (455m) near Verbania in northern Italy. AgustaWestland is to make two T129 prototypes in Italy, after which manufacture will shift to its Turkish partner TAI. TAI general director Muharrem Dortkasli says the first T129 ATAK will be handed over to the Turkish armed forces in the third quarter of 2013. Turkey will be responsible for international marketing and sales of the design, and industry sources say several countries are already evaluating the product, including Jordan and Pakistan.

The T129 is a formidable, new, highly powerful and capable all-weather day and night multi-role attack helicopter which is being developed in cooperation by AgustaWestland, Aselsan and TAI (Turkish Aerospace Industries) for Turkey and other export markets. It is based upon the AW129 and its predecessor, the battle-proven A129 Mangusta platform. High weapon payload, excellent performance for ‘hot and high’ conditions and range and endurance of up to 3 hours are enabled by state-of-the-art LHTEC-T800 engines, making the T129 a critical multi-role resource for attack and deterrent operations. Low signature and agility ensure maximum stealth, and a significant weapons payload enable the T129 to operate in the most hostile of battlefield environments as well as in confined areas typical of current military scenarios. Latest technology features include Integrated Aircraft Survivability Equipment which delivers vital survivability tools and integrated mission management utilising an advanced FLIR sighting system, Helmet Mounted Display and Mission computers. High survivability enhanced by ballistic tolerance and crashworthiness is a fundamental design feature. The T129 benefits from the high field supportability necessary for an aircraft needing to operate in remote areas with the minimum logistical support.

Both helciopters resembles closely, however, AH-64’s (shown below) main rotor blade (BERP) is its distinguishing features, Unfortunatly T-129 offers half of Apache’s Maximum Takeoff Weight (with 5,000kg) compared to Apache’s 10,000kg. Another distinguishing feature is T-129’s 5 main rotor blades. The T-129 has several key improvements over the original A129 inline with the requirements of the Turkish Army. he T-129 will carry 12 Roketsan-developed UMTAS anti-tank missiles (Turkish indigenous development similar to Hellfire II) and it will use the more powerful LHTEC T800 (CTS800-4) engine.

Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow

The AH-64 is designed to endure front-line environments and to operate during the day or night and in adverse weather using avionics, such as the Target Acquisition and Designation System, Pilot Night Vision System (TADS/PNVS), passive infrared countermeasures, GPS, and the IHADSS. The AH-64 is adaptable to numerous different roles within its context as Close Combat Attack (CCA), and has a customizable weapons loadout for the role desired.In addition to the 30-mm M230E1 Chain Gun, the Apache carries a range of external stores on its stub-wing pylons, typically a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire anti-tank missiles, and Hydra 70 general-purpose unguided 70 mm (2.76 in) rockets.

Although both helicopters offers a capability to carry sidewinder and AIM-92 Stinger, what is missing from T-129 is Longbow Radar, what I consider a key to Apache operations. The lessons of the Gulf War, and the evolving battlefield air defence threat, created the context in which the digital AH-64D (Longbow Version) Apache was conceived. An optional fit to its baseline configuration is the Longbow weapon system, comprising the Northrop-Grumman (previously Westinghouse) AN/APG-78 Longbow mast mounted Fire Control Radar (FCR), and a Lockheed-Martin AN/APR-48 Radar Frequency Interferometer (RFI) package, both designed for all weather operation through precipitation and battlefield obscurants. The Longbow weapon system supports the AGM-114L active radar guided missile, operating in the same millimetric band as the radar.

T-129 A Kid about to born

The Longbow radar is a very low peak power, millimetric band system, with extremely low sidelobes by virtue of a very large relative antenna size. The low emitted power, extremely narrow pencil beam mainlobe, and undisclosed LPI modulation features provide a system with a range of the order of 10 km in clear conditions, which is near to undetectable by established RWR technology. Only a highly sensitive channelised ESM receiver with a high gain antenna and low noise receivers can reliably detect such a signal, under optimal antenna pointing conditions. The choice of millimetric band means that atmospheric water vapour and oxygen resonance losses rapidly soak up the signal, which is also out of the frequency band coverage of most RWRs. The radar will track up to 128 targets and prioritise the top 16. The radar employs both real beam mapping and Moving Target Indicator (MTI) techniques, to provide the automatic detection, tracking and non-cooperative identification of surface targets, with a secondary capability against low flying aircraft. Target identification algorithms in the radar’s software look at the shape of possible targets, and their Doppler signatures, to identify aircraft, helicopters, SPAAGs, SAM systems, tanks, AFVs, trucks and other wheeled vehicles. The capability exists to identify stationary targets through radar transparent camouflage netting and foliage. Real beam video and synthetic imagery can be displayed.

The provision of a highly automated weapon system with basic sensor fusion is unique at to the Apache Longbow, and provides clearly unprecedented lethality in comparison with helicopters using only thermal imaging sights and laser guided missiles. Such systems are limited to engaging one target at a time, unlike the Apache Longbow which can engage many targets concurrently. Howver I must mention here T-129’s advanced milimeter wave radar, claimed to be similar to Longbow and IAI/ELTA radars. Mast radar, similar to that of Apache Longbow but based on IAI/ELTA’s (Israel) surveillance and targeting radar with SAR and ISAR capability, has been added on the top of the rotor. The radar can identify land and sea targets from at least 30 kilometres. I am unsure about the technical details of T-129 radar, but there is something comparable to Longbow abilities is surprise to me.

Looking at the airbrone FLIR T-129 incorporates ASELFLIR-300T is a multi-sensor electro-optical targeting and surveillance system. ASELFLIR-300T fulfills multiple mission requirements including; Pilotage / Navigation, Surveillance, Target Search, Track, Locate and Designation. Having a flexible hardware and software design architecture, the system can be used on different platforms ranging from rotary, fixed wing and unmanned air vehicles to naval ships. Pilotage / Navigation, Surveillance, Target Search, Track, Locate and Designation. ASELFLIR-300T System includes a High Resolution Infra Red (IR) Camera, a Laser Rangefinder / Designator (LRF/D), a Laser Spot Tracker (LST), a Color TV Camera and a Color Spotter Camera. The system consists of the following Weapons Replaceable Assemblies (WRAs); Turret Unit (TU), Electronics Unit (EU), Hand Control Unit (HCU), Boresight Module (BSM).

Looking at the potential customers for T-129, it may serve well, but offers no near capabilities as Apache. With its enhanced Integrated Aircraft Survivebility Equipment, Adaptable and Asymmertic Weapon Load Capability, the rotorcraft does have a potential to become a successful machine and secure its position among world’s best attack helicopters.

Click Here for brochure of Atak Helicopter.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Agusta Westland, Apache AH-64, ATAK, Attack helicopters, Aviation, Boeing, Current Affairs, Engineering, Flight Global, Global Aviation, Longbow Radar, Milimeter Wave Radar, Pakistan, Paris Art Show, T-129, Turkey, Turkish Aerospace Industries