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China Showcases Stealthier Sharp Sword Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle Configuration

中國展示“利劍”隱身無人戰斗機配置



The rear of the design on display during a parade to mark the 70th founding of Communist China is completely different from an earlier prototype.

在中國70周年國慶的游行中展示的設計背面與其早期的原型完全不同。

China revealed a new iteration of its Sharp Sword stealthy flying wing unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) at a parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Communist state. The drone, which the Chinese have designated GJ-11, most notably now features a completely redesigned rear aspect with a stealthier exhaust compared to an earlier prototype that could significantly improve the unmanned aircraft's radar-evading capabilities.

中國在70周年國慶閱兵儀式上,展示了其“利劍”隱身飛翼無人戰斗機(UCAV)的新版本。中國稱之為攻擊-11的無人戰機,現在最顯著的特點是對尾部進行了徹底的重新設計,與早期的原型相比,尾噴管設計更為隱身,這可以顯著提高無人機的抗雷達規避能力。



The GJ-11 displayed now has a concealed exhaust and generally more streamlined rear aspect. The intake may also have been revised. It is impossible to tell from the available pictures and video from the parade whether either the intake or exhaust systems feature any sort of ducting that could further conceal the engine, especially its fan face, and further improve the drone's stealth qualities. It seems safe to assume that incorporating these design features would at least be the eventual goal.

現在展示的攻擊-11無人機有一種隱藏式的排氣裝置,而且總體來看尾部更加的流線型。吸氣口可能也已經做了一些修形調整。從閱兵式上可獲取的圖片和視頻來看,我們無法判斷進氣系統或排氣系統是否有什么管道系統可以進一步隱藏發動機,尤其是其風扇面,從而進一步提高無人機的隱身性能。可肯定的是,整合這些設計特征至少將是最終目標。

The GJ-11 Sharp Sword on parade on Oct. 1, 2019.

2019年10月1日閱兵的攻擊-11“利劍”無人機。



A side view of the Sharp Sword prototype in 2013 with its completely exposed engine exhaust.

2013年“利劍”原型機的側視圖,發動機排氣裝置完全暴露在外。



There has also been much speculation since then about what the Sharp Sword's specific roles and missions might be over the years, with earlier reports indicating that it might be able to carry two 2,000-pound class munitions in internal bays and use a satellite data-lix to conduct long-range missions well beyond the Chinese mainland. More recently, there had been unconfirmed, but not unreasonable reports that the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) might be interested in employing a version of Sharp Sword from its aircraft carriers in an unarmed intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capacity, a concept The War Zone recently explored in detail.

從那以后,在過去幾年里,人們也一直在猜測“利劍”無人機的具體角色和任務是什么,早期的報告顯示,它可能能夠在內部彈艙攜帶兩枚2000磅級的彈藥,并使用衛星數據鏈在中國大陸之外執行遠程作戰任務。最近,有未經證實但并非不合理的報道稱,中國人民解放軍海軍(PLAN)可能有興趣利用其非武裝情報、監視和偵察(ISR)能力,在其航空母艦上部署使用一型“利劍”無人機,這是《戰區》欄目最近詳細探討的一個概念。

Narrators on China Central Television who were giving a play-by-play of the parade and the weapons and other military hardware on display reportedly said that the GJ-11's primary mission would be conducting deep penetrating strikes on critical targets. The "GJ" in the designation also stands for "gonji," or "attack" in English, which would seem to further confirm that this unmanned aircraft is a strike-focused UCAV first and foremost.

據報道,中國中央電視臺的解說員,正在逐場解說閱兵游行,并介紹展示的武器及其他軍事裝備,他們說攻擊-11的主要任務將是對關鍵目標進行深入滲透打擊。名稱中的字母“GJ”的意思也就是“攻擊”,或者用英語說就是“attack”的意思,這似乎進一步證實了這型無人機首先是一架以攻擊為主要作戰任務的隱身無人作戰飛機。



At the 2018 Zhuhai Air Show, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) revealed its own UCAV design, the CH-7, which has very broad similarities to the Northrop Grumman X-47B. CASC had a mockup on display that still had a number of features, including panel lines, that one would expect to see on a real aircraft. There are even higher fidelity mockups out there, such as the one for the X-47B itself.

在2018年的珠海航展上,中國航天科技集團公司(CASC)展示了自己的無人隱身戰斗機的設計——彩虹-7,它與諾斯羅普·格魯門公司的X-47B有著非常多的相似之處。中國航天科技集團公司展示了一個模型,它仍然有許多人們可以在真實的飛機上看到的特征,包括面板線。那里甚至有更高保真度的實物模型,比如X-47B本身的模型。

A mockup of the CASC CH-7 UCAV at the 2018 Zhuhai airshow.

2018年珠海航展上的中國航天科技集團公司彩虹-7 無人隱身戰斗機模型。



Some observers have also suggested that a number of facets in the trailing edge of the wing on the Sharp Sword in the parade may be part of a non-traditional control arrangement that uses blasts of air rather than conventional control surfaces. It is possible that China might be interested in this sort of technology, in general, but actual examples of work on "morphing wings" and "fluidic thrust vectoring" elsewhere in the world show that these developments are very much in their infancy.

一些觀察家還認為,閱兵游行中展示的“利劍”無人機的機翼后緣的許多小平面,可能是非傳統控制裝置的一部分,該類裝置使用氣流噴射控制而不是傳統控制面。總的來說,中國可能對這種技術感興趣,但是世界其他地方關于“變形機翼”和“射流推力矢量”研究的實際例子表明,這些研究還處于很初級的階段。

Regardless, official pictures from the parade show the clear outlines of traditional control surfaces. As such, the faceted areas indicate where the control surfaces would come close to joining or are otherwise simply a feature of the design.

不管怎樣,閱兵發布的官方圖片顯示了傳統控制表面的清晰輪廓。因此,刻面區域表明接合部位置就是控制翼面,或者僅僅是一個設計的特征。



A look at the rear of the GJ-11 showing the revised exhaust and the faceted areas in the trailing edges of the wings.

看看攻擊-11無人機的后部外形,顯示了修形后的排氣和機翼后緣的小平面區域。



Another rear shot of the GJ-11 Sharp Sword on parade, making it clear that the design has traditional control surfaces.

閱兵游行中的攻擊-11“利劍”無人機的另一張后部照,清楚地表明該設計具有傳統的控制翼面。

When it comes to the GJ-11's rear aspect, it is worth remembering that engine exhausts are among the most notoriously complicated elements of developing any stealth aircraft, manned or unmanned. The Russians have been facing a similar issue with their S-70 Okhotnik-B, or Hunter-B, UCAV, another flying wing design with clear stealth aspirations. As with the original Sharp Sword prototype, the first flying example of the S-70 also has an exposed engine exhaust. However, in August 2019 at the biennial MAKS airshow outside of Moscow, the manufacturer, Sukhoi, displayed a model of a future iteration with a greatly revised, stealthier rear aspect.

說到攻擊-11的尾部外形,值得仔細看看的是,發動機排氣管是研發任何隱形飛機,無論是有人的還是無人的,需要考慮的最顯著的復雜因素之一。俄羅斯人也面臨著類似的問題,他們的S-70獵人-B隱身無人攻擊機,是另一種具有明顯隱形愿望的飛翼設計。與最初的“利劍”原型機一樣,S-70的首飛測試也有暴露的發動機排氣管。然而,2019年8月,在莫斯科郊外舉行的兩年一次的莫斯科航展上,制造商蘇霍伊公司展示了一個未來迭代的模型,該模型有一個經過大幅修改的更隱蔽的尾部。

If nothing else, the general layout of the Sharp Sword UCAV in the anniversary parade is the latest indication of how invested the Chinese are in the development of stealthy unmanned aircraft, as well as drones in general. Sharp Sword is just one of the numerous flying wing style unmanned designs that Chinese aviation firms have been producing in recent years. These are developments that The War Zone has been following very closely.

如果不談其他的,國慶閱兵式上展示的“利劍”隱身無人攻擊機的總體布局,正是中國人在隱形無人飛行器以及無人機發展方面投資的最新發展跡象。“利劍”無人機只是中國航空企業近年來生產的眾多飛翼式無人機設計之一。這些都是《戰區》欄目一直密切關注的發展領域。



Another view of the GJ-11 Sharp Sword on parade.

閱兵游行中另一個視角的攻擊-11“利劍”無人機。



Whatever the actual state of the GJ-11's development is or isn't, China is definitely eager, and publicly so, to push further ahead in developing a real stealth UCAV capability.

無論攻擊-11的實際發展狀況是或不是要進一步推進發展真正的隱身無人攻擊機的能力,中國都對此絕對渴望,而且是公開地如此強烈追求。