China's new drone ups the ante for Australia

China unveiled a new drone that can fly to Darwin and back carrying 2.5 tons of weapons.

This week, China unveiled a new drone that can fly to Darwin and back carrying 2.5 tons of weapons. And it can defend itself when it does.

The Wing Loong-3 uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) was unveiled at the 14th China International Aviation and Space Exhibition. The event, which showcases China's most modern military equipment, concludes on Sunday.

Amid public display by China's now operational J-20 “Mighty Dragon” stealth fighter, the new 6 tonne drone is stealing the show with its size and range.

It is 12.2 m long with a wingspan of 24 m. Its simple lines and propeller-based engine hint at the relative ease of construction. But China's state-controlled media claims that the plane can fly 10,000 km at moderate altitude while carrying a variety of weapons. And can stay in the air, if needed, up to 40 hours.

The ability of small and inexpensive armed drones to linger over potential targets has proven very strong in Ukraine. But Wing Loong-3 operates on a much larger scale.

“Wandering munitions have spearheaded the future of warfare, challenging all conventional assumptions in the doctrine of war,” said United States Marine Corps officer Zachary Williams at The Diplomat. “Loading munitions may not be part of the show for the PLAAF, but the core requirement for drone implementations to use precision-guided munitions is a key step.”

Killer Robot

The UAV's chief designer, Zhou Yi, appeared in China's state-controlled media to perfect his work. He said it is capable of conducting autonomous intercontinental operations, including surveillance and reconnaissance, striking targets and loitering for up to 40 hours.

“The entire payload is completely ahead of any existing mid-altitude long-endurance UAV in terms of weight, quantity or type,” Zhou said. "In addition to military duty, it can play a helpful role in various civilian missions, such as atmospheric measurement, signal relay, and emergency rescue."

Beneath its large wings are nine attachment "hard points" that can carry up to 16 objects. This can include sensor pods, bombs, and missiles.

Notably, the Wing Loon-3 screen shows the plane carrying a smaller drone and roaming ammunition.

Retired People's Liberation Army Colonel Yue Gang added that the UAV can use the new PL-10E air-to-air missile. This "gives him self-defense capabilities and increases his defensive capabilities," he said.

"The PL-10E missile allows it to have certain capabilities against aerial targets, which the previous UAVs of the Wing Loong family did not have," added Chinese military media analyst Song Zhongping. That means it can attack other planes - and drones.

Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avid) said the Wing Loon-3 will soon enter mass production.

Drone war

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has taught the world's militaries an important lesson: The best is not always enough.

Quantity has its own value.

Moscow spent large quantities of its advanced cruise and hypersonic missiles in the early weeks of the conflict. But Ukrainian defenders using commercial drones were able to hold off its advancing tanks.

Now Russia is relying on Iran's stockpile of cheap drones loaded with explosives to fill its cruise missile gap. And it is used against civilian forces, water and transportation infrastructure instead of frontline military forces.

The ability to field hundreds of such inexpensive guided weapons could rapidly change the fate of the battlefield.

“The Chinese Communist Party has noted the recent conflict and the tremendous success of the roaming ammunition,” Williams said. “In terms of the Anti-Access/Aerial Denial that the Chinese military wants to do in the East and South China Seas, it is easy to see how such a capability could be integrated into an already capable military.”
But Wing Loon 3 might show that China is trying to apply this logic on an international scale.

“While the technology for UAS has evolved, the most significant change is in how UAS is used as part of a combined arms war and what it suggests about the future,” a recent report by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) noted.

“In this context, it is important to have platforms and systems capable of gathering intelligence over a wide geographic area, striking targets if necessary, and operating in contested environments.” And a large number of drones can overwhelm the opponent's air defenses,

"The character of war is something that's always changing," Williams said. “In recent years, the character has been heavily shaped by information warfare coupled with the use of roaming ammunition. The evidence is on the battlefields of the South Caucus, Ukraine, and China's defense budget." This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS. 

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post

Contact Form