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China Showcases Stealthier Sharp Sword Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle Configuration

中国展示“利剑”隐身无人战斗机配置



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.

在中国70周年国庆的游行中展示的设计背面与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.

中国在70周年国庆阅兵仪式上,展示了其“利剑”隐身飞翼无人战斗机(UCAV)的新版本。中国称之为攻击-11的无人战机,现在最显著的特点是对尾部进行了彻底的重新设计,与早期的原型相比,尾喷管设计更为隐身,这可以显著提高无人机的抗雷达规避能力。



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.

现在展示的攻击-11无人机有一种隐藏式的排气装置,而且总体来看尾部更加的流线型。吸气口可能也已经做了一些修形调整。从阅兵式上可获取的图片和视频来看,我们无法判断进气系统或排气系统是否有什么管道系统可以进一步隐藏发动机,尤其是其风扇面,从而进一步提高无人机的隐身性能。可肯定的是,整合这些设计特征至少将是最终目标。

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

2019年10月1日阅兵的攻击-11“利剑”无人机。



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

2013年“利剑”原型机的侧视图,发动机排气装置完全暴露在外。



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.

从那以后,在过去几年里,人们也一直在猜测“利剑”无人机的具体角色和任务是什么,早期的报告显示,它可能能够在内部弹舱携带两枚2000磅级的弹药,并使用卫星数据链在中国大陆之外执行远程作战任务。最近,有未经证实但并非不合理的报道称,中国人民解放军海军(PLAN)可能有兴趣利用其非武装情报、监视和侦察(ISR)能力,在其航空母舰上部署使用一型“利剑”无人机,这是《战区》栏目最近详细探讨的一个概念。

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.

据报道,中国中央电视台的解说员,正在逐场解说阅兵游行,并介绍展示的武器及其他军事装备,他们说攻击-11的主要任务将是对关键目标进行深入渗透打击。名称中的字母“GJ”的意思也就是“攻击”,或者用英语说就是“attack”的意思,这似乎进一步证实了这型无人机首先是一架以攻击为主要作战任务的隐身无人作战飞机。



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,中国航天科技集团公司(CASC)展示了自己的无人隐身战斗机的设计——彩虹-7,它与诺斯罗普·格鲁门公司的X-47B有着非常多的相似之处。中国航天科技集团公司展示了一个模型,它仍然有许多人们可以在真实的飞机上看到的特征,包括面板线。那里甚至有更高保真度的实物模型,比如X-47B本身的模型。

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

2018年珠海航展上的中国航天科技集团公司彩虹-7 无人隐身战斗机模型。



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.

一些观察家还认为,阅兵游行中展示的“利剑”无人机的机翼后缘的许多小平面,可能是非传统控制装置的一部分,该类装置使用气流喷射控制而不是传统控制面。总的来说,中国可能对这种技术感兴趣,但是世界其他地方关于“变形机翼”和“射流推力矢量”研究的实际例子表明,这些研究还处于很初级的阶段。

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.

不管怎样,阅兵发布的官方图片显示了传统控制表面的清晰轮廓。因此,刻面区域表明接合部位置就是控制翼面,或者仅仅是一个设计的特征。



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

看看攻击-11无人机的后部外形,显示了修形后的排气和机翼后缘的小平面区域。



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

阅兵游行中的攻击-11“利剑”无人机的另一张后部照,清楚地表明该设计具有传统的控制翼面。

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.

说到攻击-11的尾部外形,值得仔细看看的是,发动机排气管是研发任何隐形飞机,无论是有人的还是无人的,需要考虑的最显著的复杂因素之一。俄罗斯人也面临着类似的问题,他们的S-70猎人-B隐身无人攻击机,是另一种具有明显隐形愿望的飞翼设计。与最初的“利剑”原型机一样,S-70的首飞测试也有暴露的发动机排气管。然而,2019年8月,在莫斯科郊外举行的两年一次的莫斯科航展上,制造商苏霍伊公司展示了一个未来迭代的模型,该模型有一个经过大幅修改的更隐蔽的尾部。

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.

如果不谈其他的,国庆阅兵式上展示的“利剑”隐身无人攻击机的总体布局,正是中国人在隐形无人飞行器以及无人机发展方面投资的最新发展迹象。“利剑”无人机只是中国航空企业近年来生产的众多飞翼式无人机设计之一。这些都是《战区》栏目一直密切关注的发展领域。



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

阅兵游行中另一个视角的攻击-11“利剑”无人机。



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.

无论攻击-11的实际发展状况是或不是要进一步推进发展真正的隐身无人攻击机的能力,中国都对此绝对渴望,而且是公开地如此强烈追求。