The latest example of the stealthy Chengdu J-20 fighter has recently undergone high-speed taxi testing at the company airfield, suggesting that a first flight is imminent, possibly scheduled for this weekend. Thought to be the third flying example of the J-20, the new aircraft is being considered as a true developmental airframe for an operational fighter, and has introduced a number of significant improvements over the two technology demonstrators that preceded it. Many of the changes are measures taken to reduce the type’s radar cross section.
Raytheon has warned against overreliance on stealthy platforms alone in future air combat. Despite their low radar cross-sections (RCS), fifth-generation fighters such as the F-35 can be detected by modern air defense systems. To defeat these defenses, air forces should take full advantage of the latest sensors and weapons that can be carried on less stealthy aircraft, the company said.
When Serbia shot down U.S. Air Force F-117 during the Kosovo war in 1999, skeptics of stealth claimed vindication. However, that success was due to a combination of poor mission planning, smart air-defense operators exploiting both radar and ELINT sensors, some vulnerability in the first-generation platform–and pure luck. Low-observable technology has moved on, and the F-22, F-35 and the latest UCAVs are stealthier than the F-117.
Nearly a year after the Sukhoi T-50 made its first flight, another fifth-generation fighter program made its debut, in the form of Chengdu’s J-20. The aircraft was revealed in late December 2010, before making a first flight on January 11 this year.
The British government is reviewing a security agreement signed previously with the U.S. that could preclude future cooperation with Europe on unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAVs). Last week’s unveiling of the all-British Taranis stealthy UCAV demonstrator by BAE Systems has brought renewed focus on whether European governments and industry can or should unite to fully develop such a system.
Amid tight security, the Taranis Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (shown above) was unveiled at BAE Systems Warton airfield last Monday. Uncleared visitors were not allowed to approach the aircraft, but the stealth-driven configuration seemed unchanged from artists’ impressions previously released. The Taranis concept demonstrator is due to fly next year from an undisclosed overseas airbase.
Many of the invited guests who witnessed the unveiling of the Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle at BAE Systems’s Warton plant last week won’t have
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) chose the Navy League convention to introduce a carrier-capable version of its Predator C UAV. GA-ASI has proposed the Sea Avenger for the emerging U.S. Navy Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System (UClass). It is based on the jet-powered, stealthy development of the Predator series that GA-ASI has funded through design, development and into flight test.
The U.S. Air Force has finally acknowledged the existence of a stealthy air vehicle operating over Afghanistan, after another photo of the so-called “Beast of Kandahar” was published on the French Web site Secret Defense. Designated the RQ-170 Sentinel, the tailless flying wing was designed by the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, and is providing reconnaissance and surveillance support to forward-deployed combat forces, the USAF said.
The U.S. Air Force F-15 display here is so hot you can see the paint peeling off the aircraft! In fact, although this F-15E Strike Eagle needs sprucing up a tad, its airshow act could hardly be smarter. The display put on by captains Phil “Ritz” Smith (pilot) accompanied by John “Gizmo” Cox in the back seat, is the best that AIN has seen of an F-15.
- Page 1