July 29, 2017

Details of Chinese sea-skimming lethal drone prototype emerge


Jane’s sources have shed new light on a hitherto unseen anti-ship weapon/unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)-like system – centred around a wing-in-ground-effect optimised airframe – that was initially circulated on Chinese internet discussion forums around May 2017 in a Mandarin language brochure with a redacted product designation.

Developed by defence prime China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation's (CASC's) China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) subsidiary, the system has been given the product designation of CH-T1, although it is understood that the company prefers to identify it as the Ground Effect UAV (GEUAV) demonstrator.

The forward segment of the 5.8 m long GEUAV demonstrator is shaped like a conventional missile, with a cylindrical fuselage capped by an ogival nosecone where the radar seeker is located. Towards the rear is an unconventionally designed main body featuring two thick, long chord but short-span stubby wing structures running along the sides of its belly that combine to form a continuous wing-like undersurface. Two small outer wings can be found at the front of the main stub wings, along with upwards cranked V-tailfins at the rear that have an overall span of 3.8 m.

The air vehicle has a specified maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 3,000 kg – although the prototype weighed significantly less during trials as it only carried partial payloads and fuel loads – and achieves take-off via rocket assisted catapult launch. It can be powered by either a turbojet or turbofan engine, which enables it to travel at a maximum speed of Mach 0.65 (802 km/h) while cruising at terrain hugging altitudes of 1–6 m. The engine draws its air from an intake located on top of its main body to avoid ingesting sea spray during low level flight overwater.

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