China will construct two conventionally powered aircraft carriers in Dalian and Shanghai between 2014 and 2015, a source from China's Central Military Commission has told.
Under the Commission's Project 048, China aims to establish three carrier battle groups by 2020 so that all three major fleets of the PLA Navy will be able to carry out missions with the full support of an aircraft carrier. The two new Type 001A indigenous carriers will be updated versions of China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was originally a Soviet-era Admiral Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier purchased from Ukraine in 1998. They will also likely be designed with a ski-jump ramp.
Sources said that the General Equipment Department of the PLA has already signed a contract with the Beijing-based China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation to build the two carriers. The price of the two vessels is estimated to be worth US$9 billion.
After China's first stealth combat drone, the Lijian, completed its first test flight on Nov. 21, the Moscow-based "Military Parade" stated that the drone — designed jointly by the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation and Hongdu Aviation Industry Group — is in fact a copy of a Russian design.
The Lijian's 20-minute test flight was completed at an unknown test center located in southwestern China. Photos of the new drone first appeared on the Chinese military website in May this year, with the US-based Strategy Page reporting that the People's Liberation Army may have released the images to demonstrate its military muscle.
|China Lijian stealth combat drone|
China is catching up slowly with the United States and Israel in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), the US-based Aviation Week said. Taking the Lijian, Wing Loong and CH-4 as examples, the report stated China is able to design and produce various types of drones including hand-launched miniature UAVs and larger long-range reconnaissance drones.
However, the Russian based "Military Parade" claims that China copied the design of Russia's Mikoyan Skat drone. It said the Lijian may employ a RD-93, the upgrade version of the Klimov RD-33 engine equipped by the Skat, as it is widely used in aircraft developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
Taiwan's military is developing a weapons-capable unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with some stealth capabilities at the Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, an official at the institute said
This will be the first armed UAV from the military-run research center, which has developed various tactical drones for surveillance and reconnaissance that cannot carry weapons, according to the source familiar with the institute's project, who requested anonymity.
Unlike previous models, the drone under development boasts short wings, stealth features and a weapons cabin that can carry missiles and bombs, the official said.
"The new UAV would be able to evade radar detection as its body is made from radar-absorbent materials," the official added.
|Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology|
The revelation came on the sidelines of a defense technology exhibition at Taoyuan County Stadium.
A dazzling array of high-tech devices and equipment developed in civilian and military collaborative projects are on display.
Exhibits featured at the Dec. 6-7 event include a variety of UAVs, Hsiung Feng III anti-ship missiles — also known as Brave Wind III — and Tien Kung III air defense missiles —also known as Sky Bow III — as well as sophisticated devices in the fields of aerospace and green technology.
Scientists on the mainland say they are increasingly confident of developing the world’s first practical invisibility cloak, using technology to hide objects from view and make them “disappear’’.
At least 40 research teams have been funded by the central government over the past three years to develop the idea, which in recent decades has largely been the stuff of science fiction and fantasy novels like the Harry Potter series than science fact.
The technology would have obvious military uses, such as developing stealth aircraft, but Beijing believes the research could lead to wider technological breakthroughs with broader uses, scientists involved in the research said.
The teams involved include researchers at Tsinghua University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The main approaches are developing materials that guide light away from an object; creating electromagnetic fields to bend light away from what you are trying to hide, plus copying nature to make high-tech camouflage materials.
A team led by professor Chen Hongsheng at Zhejiang University released a video earlier this month demonstrating a device that made fish invisible. The same technology also made a cat “disappear’’.
The device was made of a hexagonal array of glass panels, which bends light around the object, making it disappear from view.
Other teams on the mainland have made similar breakthroughs during their research. Professor Ma Yungui, an optical engineering scientist who also works at Zhejiang University, said his team would soon announce their latest finding: a device that stops objects being detected by heat sensors or metal detectors.
Ma’s device is as large as a match box, but it could be increased in size to allow weapons to pass through security checkpoints. Another potential application is to stop special agents or troops moving at night being caught by infrared cameras.
“Many people have asked me if the technology can be applied on fighter jets so they can get heat-seeking missiles off the tail. Well, we may work on that,’’ he said.
Ma said a useable, practical invisibility cloak might still be decades away as it needed super-materials that could not be produced with current technology, but the central government was still pouring funds into research because the theoretical knowledge gained could produce so many potential spinoffs.
Ma said his team had received funding from the government to develop an invisibility cloak and their device was a byproduct of their research.
“I went to an international forum on invisibility study in Paris last year and found that at least a third of the researchers came from mainland China,” Ma said. “It seems easy to get funds these days. You ask for it, you get it.’’
The unmanned drone, dubbed RQ-180, is currently in the testing phase at the top secret Groom Lake air base in Nevada -- the infamous "Area 51" where the Air Force tested the U2 spy planes in the late 1950s, Aviation Week said.
The Air Force refused to comment when contacted by AFP. The new aircraft was reportedly built by Northrop Grumann, the company behind the Global Hawk and the X-47B drones, which landed on air craft carriers for the first time this summer.
The US company may have obtained in 2008 a secret contract on the order of $2 billion to develop the latest drone, according to Aviation Week.
An artistic rendering of the RQ-180 on the cover of the magazine shows a craft with striking resemblance to the X-47B, in particular in lack of rear stabilizer and its so-called "batwing" shape.
It was developed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions, but "could also be capable of electronic attack missions," the magazine said.
"It is similar in size and endurance to the Global Hawk," which can fly for 24 hours up to 1,200 nautical miles (2,000 kilometers) from its base.
A first generation of unmanned aircraft, the non-stealthy Reapers and Global Hawks, were used in Afghanistan and Iraq, but they were deemed too vulnerable in enemy territory equipped with powerful anti-aircraft defenses.Now the Air Force is slowly turning to stealth drones, better at passing safely over unfriendly territory.
In December 2011, a spy drone that had until then been secret, the RQ-170 Sentinel, crashed 155 miles (250 kilometers) inside Iranian air space.