Images of a Chinese stealth drone were published on the microblogging platform Weibo. It resembles Northrop Grumman's X-47B drone developed as part of the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) project. What kind of "bird" appeared in the Chinese sky, it is difficult to say because of the poor quality of the photo. But there are three versions.
The mysterious Chinese drone resembles the Star Shadow. This is the development of the company Star UAV Systems, which is located in the city of Chengdu. The drone was announced in 2018.
Star Shadow has a wingspan of almost 15 meters. The drone can climb to an altitude of up to 15 km and stay in the air for 12 hours. The Star Shadow has a maximum payload mass of more than 400 kg.
We should not forget about another Chinese development - the Caihong-7. The unmanned aerial vehicle was created by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). It was also announced four years ago, but it did not officially go beyond the mockup.
The Caihong-7 surpasses Star Shadow in size. It has a wingspan of 22 meters. The maximum takeoff weight of the drone is more than 14,000 kg. In flight, the drone can reach a speed of Mach 0.75 (926.1 km/h).
The third version is the most realistic. We are talking about the CS-550T drone, developed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). It is a relatively compact drone with a wingspan of 5 meters and a payload of up to 50 kg.
In favor of the third version, the CS-550T has already flown. In the case of the Caihong-7, as we have already written, the developer showed only a mockup of the drone. Star Shadow is in the same status.
And a few words about the Northrop Grumman stealth drone, which was mentioned at the beginning of the material. The X-47B is the second generation UAV of the X-47 series. It made its first flight in early February 2011.
In the spring of 2013, the drone made its first flight with the USS George H. W. Bush, and a month later made its first landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Two years later, the X-47B performed its first-ever aerial refueling in unmanned mode.
Northrop Grumman produced only two drones. The development program cost more than $800 million. Because of this, the project was shut down, although the X-47B had used up less than 20% of its service life.
The drone had a top speed of Mach 0.45 (535 km/h). It was equipped with a Pratt & Whitney F100-220 turbojet engine and could lift a payload of up to 2,000 kg. The X47-B was equipped with two JDAM missiles.
Source: The Drive