Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Beijing, China (4E) – China is using tech secrets it stole from the United States to develop the “AVIC Dark Sword,” an unmanned aerial vehicle that might combine stealth with maneuverability.
Dark Sword (An-Jian or Anjian) is part of a larger unmanned aerial vehicle development program called “AVIC 601-S” that seeks to develop low-observable flying wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This program is a partnership between Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (SYADI) of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Shenyang Aerospace University. To be deployed either as a reconnaissance or combat drone, Dark Sword features canard configuration and twin rudders to improve maneuverability.
Knowledge gained on other 601-S UAVs such as Warrior Eagle has been applied to Dark Sword, which has less emphasis on stealth compared to other 601-S UAVs, but places more stress on maneuverability.
China last week revealed the first photo of a mock-up or full scale non-flying model of Dark Sword, and its state-run propaganda machine went into overdrive claiming the non-existent UAV will change the balance of power in Asia in China’s favor.
The first official photo of the static model for Dark Sword shows 30-foot-long drone in a hangar with its development team standing in front of it. The static model has several intriguing features, including an engine air inlet that might reduce radar detection in supersonic flight. It’s also done in a silvery color scheme, possibly indicating the use a radar-absorbing coating similar to that on the Chengdu J-20 “stealth” fighter.
Andreas Rupprecht, an aviation journalist from Germany who has written about Chinese warplanes, said he found the photo “most surprising.”
“The questions are now: why was it unveiled now?” Is it a recent image or only now posted?” he tweeted.
He also noted that “After decades of rapid expansion, aided by systematic theft of American intellectual property, the Chinese defense industry is capable of quickly designing and producing sophisticated weaponry.”
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