In the next decade, the state-owned Chinese defense company will become the world's largest manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles. This is reported in the UAV market forecast published by the research company Forcast International (Forecast International).
According to published estimates, the global unmanned aircraft market will more than double - from 942 million dollars in 2014 to 2,3 billion in 2023. True, in physical terms, little will change. Market growth will be driven more by the rising cost of unmanned systems. In particular, Forcast International expects even a reduction in the production of UAVs - from 1000 systems in the current year to about 960 systems from 2017 to the end of the decade.
According to analysts, the state-owned Chinese corporation aviation industry AVIC (AVIC - Aviation Industry Corporation of China) will be the leader in the global market for the production of UAVs. According to Forkast, AVIK will release unmanned aerial vehicles worth $ 2023 billion by 5,76. This is more than half of the market volume in value terms for the period under review. Almost all manufactured devices are planned to be sold to Chinese consumers. The largest producer of UAVs after AVIK will be Northrop Grumman, Forecast predicts. In accordance with the forecast, by 2023 it will release UAVs worth $ 2,58 billion.
Now AVIK and subsidiaries produce several unmanned aerial vehicles for the domestic market. According to Avionics Intelligence (Avionics Intelligence), the corporation manufactures a microapparatus with an MAV (micro air vehicle) electric motor, a jet LIEOE, almost identical to the American RQ-4 Global Hawk developed by Northrop Grumman ), which is designed for reconnaissance and surveillance, an electric Sky Ai helicopter (Sky Eye) for use by artillery and missile units for reconnaissance and target designation, as well as the Sky Dragon TL-8 air target to simulate the flight of winged rockets.
China has several times demonstrated the potential for successful deployment of its growing UAV fleet. In particular, according to Chinese state media, in 2013, Beijing was considering the possibility of using UAVs to attack the Golden Triangle in order to destroy a drug dealer from Myanmar who is wanted in China. However, it was then decided to capture him alive.
In addition, during the celebration of the anniversary of the nationalization of the Senkaku Islands by Japan in September 2012, the Japanese authorities announced that they had flown jets into the sky due to the flight of an unidentified UAV in close proximity to this region. Later, Beijing confirmed that the drone was Chinese and was performing a scheduled task. For several weeks thereafter, Japanese media reported that the Tokyo government was exploring plans to destroy foreign drones that violated the country's airspace. Beijing responded: he will view such a move as an act of declaring war.
China has been developing unmanned aerial vehicles since it built copies of the American Firebee, shot down in 60-ies. In 1972, prototypes of the Wuzen-5 apparatus (Wuzhen-5 - WZ-5), also known as Chang Hong-1 (Chang Hong - CH-1), appeared. Initially, the Chinese UAVs were developed by the Chinese Airborne Missile Academy, and their customer for many decades was the People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA), which, according to some sources, used unmanned aerial vehicles during the invasion of Vietnam in 1979 and received valuable intelligence information that helped the conduct of hostilities.
Over the past five years, an industry has been built in the PRC to create unmanned aircraft, the capabilities of which surprise some experts. Representatives of the Chinese industry, on the one hand, demonstrate unique developments, on the other - traditionally copy advanced western products.
The Difference News weekly publishes the opinion of one of the renowned experts in the field of UAVs Robert Michelson, research engineer from the American Research Institute of Technology (Georgia), who was a jury member at the International Competition for Innovative UAVs held in China at 2011 and 2013 (International UAV Innovation Grand Prix Regulations). According to the expert, in 2011, a UAV with a main propeller developed at Northwestern Polytechnic University from the city of Xian was stopped in flight. At the same time, the leading US developers in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles, having substantial investments by the Pentagon and NASA, have not been able to achieve the transition of the device from hover mode to high-speed horizontal movement. Unlike the American projects, a really functioning Chinese UAV was presented at the competition.
In 2013, Michelson was even more amazed when he saw one of the Chinese universities solve the daunting task of influencing high voltages on the flow profile of the UAV wing airfoil, which they had never tried to do before. Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics called its development “PlasMav” (PlasMav).
For the first time in stories A high voltage field UAV has been used to reduce drag and increase lift, the expert said.
All these unique developments nevertheless do not stop the Chinese specialists from copying the best Western developments. In particular, the Chinese veterans of the WZ-5 and ASN-206 are “clones” of the Firebee and Pioneer vehicles.
Among the other popular for copying American UAVs are the MQ-1 Predator (Predator) and the Global Hawk. The analogue of the “Predator” is called “Pterodactyl-1” in China. It is equipped with a horsepower 100 piston engine. A copy of the Global Hawk drone is called Xianglong or BZK-005. It weighs 7484 kilograms and has a cruising height of 17 376 meters.
Chengdu Aircraft Corporation (CAC) has developed Sianlong since 2006. In the existing images it is presented in the form of an inconspicuous apparatus of the two-quilted scheme. The device with a wingspan of 22,86 meter and a range of 6437 kilometers is equipped with an under-vent gyrostabilized optical-electronic system (GOES). One Xianglong was reportedly crashed in Hebei province in August 2011.
In 2011, Iran was able to get the wreckage of a downed RQ-170 "Sentinel" UAV developed by Lockheed Martin. Pictures of the analogue of this device later appeared on Chinese websites, which suggests that the work was done on creating a copy of Sentinel.
According to experts, any large program of unmanned aerial vehicles of the United States is sooner or later copied to the PRC. Currently, the company "Chengdu" is developing a new subtle supersonic UAV with articulated wing and tail section, which is called the "Dark Sword" (Dark Sword). It resembles the American "Avenger" (Avenger). Shenyang University has developed two competitive, inconspicuous models, the Crossbow and the Wind Blade, which have longer wing tips with tips. The characteristics of these devices allow you to use them for observation and targeting in the fight against aircraft carriers. Chengdu is also working to create a hypersonic UAV, equipped with a supersonic combustion direct-flow jet engine (scramjet) based on the NASA / DARPA X-43 program implemented in the USA.
At air shows held in Zhuhai in recent years, more than two dozen UAVs have traditionally been presented, which, however, are not being launched into production in the interests of China or foreign customers. The obvious progress of China in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles was demonstrated at the Zhuhai Airshow-2000 exhibition, where the WZ-200 small Guizhou (Guizhou) was introduced, which later evolved into a middle-class UAV. In 2008, samples equipped with weapons and a turbojet engine, similar to the American MIP-9 “Reaper” (Reaper) drone developed by General Atomics (General Atomics), appeared at the air show. ASN-2010A has become the largest-sized UAV on Zhuhai Airshow-229. It has a range of 2000 kilometers and is equipped with air-to-ground missiles and a satellite data line.
However, as experts note, only a few units from the vast mass of UAVs developed by Chinese specialists are in operation, and the technologies used in them, according to experts, are 20 years behind the western ones. The main obvious disadvantages are in the absence of miniaturization technologies for antennas, video and communication systems, data transmission lines.
Prospective drones for the PLA will be much larger and more efficient, and a developed copy of the inconspicuous RQ-170 will help to track the strike groups of ships during strategic operations against aircraft carriers using anti-ship ballistic missiles developed in China. However, this possibility is hardly a matter of the near future.
China, moreover, with its BLA, gradually begins to enter the foreign market. In particular, according to the Want China Times, Saudi Arabia signed an agreement to acquire a Chinese medium-high UAV of the long duration of the Wing Loong flight, also known as Pterodactyl-1 ). Information about the number of unmanned systems purchased by the kingdom is not. The agreement was concluded during the visit of Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense of Saudi Arabia, to the People's Republic of China at the beginning of the year. On the Chinese side, the document was signed by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the PLA, Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong. Although neither Beijing nor Riyadh advertise the deal, in the past there have already been examples of such defense supplies. And analysts believe that it is expedient for China to promote the Vin Lun drone as one of the main export military products.
In June, official Chinese media reported 2013 that national companies sold UAVs to three foreign customers without naming them. According to unconfirmed reports, we are talking in particular about the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. It was also noted that negotiations on potential supplies are being conducted with five countries.
The Vin Lun system was developed at the Aviation Research Institute in Chengdu (Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute) and manufactured by Chengdu. Implementation of the program began in 2005, and the first flight of the UAV was performed in 2007. According to the Popular Science magazine, Popular Lynn, 100 kilograms in size, is roughly the same as the Predator, with a range over 4000 kilometers and a flight time of 20 hours. The 200 kilogram mass payload can include two KD-10 air-to-air guided missiles, laser-guided, similar to the American Hellfire XM-114, or two LS-50 X-YUM satellite-guided bombs with satellite guidance.
Although China claims that Vin Lun is completely based on its own technologies, experts, as already noted, consider it a copy of the Predator apparatus, which the US Air Force and the CIA used for its intended purpose to destroy terrorists, particularly in Pakistan and Yemen. Given the growing concern of Saudi Arabia with the growing threats from Syria and Yemen, it seems quite appropriate for Riyadh’s decision to use strike drones, including Vin Lun, in the fight against extremists.
Chinese media have positioned this UAV as having a wide range of military applications, including for delivering pinpoint strikes and long-range reconnaissance. The potential civilian use of Wing Lung is also noted, in particular for the assessment of natural disasters, environmental protection, atmospheric and meteorological research.
China, analysts believe, will aggressively push its UAVs onto the world market. The report of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, prepared in 2013 on behalf of the US Congress, states that Chinese companies are expected to become the main suppliers of drones on the world market.
UAVs produced by China are especially attractive to countries in Africa and the Middle East. The low cost of the devices and the absence of restrictions on exports are significant advantages in competition with Western manufacturers.