Russia and China are developing drones that could make stealth aircraft obsolete

2015-08-28

Russia and China are developing drones that could make stealth aircraft obsolete
The US and its allies continue to invest heavily in the F-35 and other stealth-capable aircraft. But Russia and China are rapidly developing systems that would negate the benefits that stealth offers.

According to Zarchary Keck writing in The National Interest, both Beijing and Moscow have begun development of unmanned aerial vehicles that have the goal of finding, detecting, and possibly even eliminating enemy stealth aircraft.

China's stealth detection drone, called the Divine Eagle, is believed to be specially built to counter stealth aircraft while they are still far from the Chinese mainland.

Popular Science notes that the drone's "long range anti-stealth capabilities can be used against both aircraft, like the B-2 bomber, and warships such as the DDG-1000 destroyer ... the Chinese air force could quickly intercept stealthy enemy aircraft, missiles and ships well before they come in range of the Mainland."

The Divine Eagle features multiple different radar systems, including X/UHF low band radar systems, according to Popular Science. These systems could be used to track stealth aircraft like the F-35 at long distances, as most stealth technology is created to avoid high band radar systems, thereby eroding one of the key advantages of the fifth-generation plane.

The Divine Eagle has apparently undergone multiple redesigns which sought to limit the plane's infrared signature — something that would help ensure the drone's own purported stealth capabilities.

Russia has been working on its own stealth-detection drone. Flight Global writes that the Russian military subcontractor KRET debuted a stealth drone prototype at the MAKS air show in Moscow in August.

The unnamed drone, Flight Global notes, will also come outfitted with UHF and X-band radar systems that could be used to detect stealth aircraft. Additionally, the drone is outfitted with an electronic warfare system that would both cloak the drone and make it difficult to target with air-to-air missiles.

If such Chinese and Russian systems are ultimately proven effective, the US' reliance upon stealth technology will need to be radically evaluated.

At the same time, both Chinese and Russian claims of the technology's status should be viewed with some skepticism.

Chinese military technology is often based on designs stolen from US and other allied countries, which calls Beijing's domestic research and development capabilities into question. Additionally, rampant corruption throughout the Chinese military may undermine the country's ability to fight or develop advanced technologies.

Russia also faces serious challenges to its military ambitions. Large-scale economic problems throughout the country — the partial result of EU and US sanctions stemming from Russia's aggressive policies in Ukraine — have limited Russia's military procurement. Already, Russia is cancelling the construction of most of its planned next-generation tanks and may have be scrapping of plans for a fifth-generation bomber. Any new stealth drone could face similar funding hurdles.

Still, the potential rise of anti-stealth drones should worry the US, as it could expose an over-reliance on stealth technology that suddenly has far less tactical and strategic worth.

Some in the Pentagon already feel that way. In February, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert gave a speech in which he called out the potential limitations of stealth technology.

"You can only go so fast, and you know that stealth may be overrated," Greenery said. "Let's face it, if something moves fast through the air, disrupts molecules and puts out heat — I don't care how cool the engine can be, it's going to be detectable. You get my point."




Drones Newest Mission is Disaster Relief

2015-08-11
Drones Newest Mission is Disaster Relief
When aid workers arrived after Typhoon Haiyan hit Southeast Asia in 2013, they brought something new to help the areas battered by rain and gale force winds: unmanned aerial drones.

Folding Drone Unfurls in Fraction of a Second

2015-08-10
Folding Drone Unfurls in Fraction of a Second
Engineering teams around the world are putting significant time, effort and research dollars into the idea of using aerial drones in disaster relief scenarios. It makes a lot of sense: Drones are able to fly into dangerous or inaccessible locations and — outfitted with cameras and communications gear can provide reconnaissance imagery of a disaster site or even make initial contact with survivors.

Unmanned aircraft taking to Texas skies for FAA testing

2014-02-27
Unmanned aircraft taking to Texas skies for FAA testing

Increasing numbers of aircraft are taking to the Texas skies unmanned.

Northwestern Michigan College unmanned drone program lends students unique opportunities

2014-01-27
Northwestern Michigan College unmanned drone program lends students unique opportunities

The U.S. government isn’t expected to open airspace for civilian unmanned drone flight until 2015.

Drone Pilots: The Future Of Aerial Warfare

2011-11-28
Drone Pilots: The Future Of Aerial Warfare
To understand how important remotely piloted aircraft are to theU.S.military, consider this...

Flight of the drones

2011-10-27
Flight of the drones
Why the future of air power belongs to unmanned systems

'Messengers of Death': Are Drones Creating a New Global Arms Race?

2011-10-23
'Messengers of Death': Are Drones Creating a New Global Arms Race?
They are difficult to detect, deadly and cheap to build. Despite the dubious legality of assassinating suspected terrorists and Taliban without a trial, the market for drones is heating up around the world. With Israel and China moving into the market, are we about to see a new arms race?

Northrop Grumman Aims To Take On Predator

2011-05-10
Northrop Grumman Aims To Take On Predator
After decades of enjoying a virtually uncontested lead in the medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial systems (UAS) market, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems may finally be facing some competition.

The Terminators: drone strikes prompt MoD to ponder ethics of killer robots

2011-04-21
The Terminators: drone strikes prompt MoD to ponder ethics of killer robots
Analysis of unmanned aircraft in combat urges Britain to establish policy on 'acceptable machine behaviour'.
The growing use of unmanned aircraft in combat situations raises huge moral and legal issues, and threatens to make war more likely as armed robots take over from human beings, according to an internal study by the Ministry of Defence.

UAV market set to double

2011-03-31
UAV market set to double
While few would dispute that unmanned air systems have transformed military aviation during the past decade, it is looking increasingly certain that the coming 10 years will see huge change in unmanned air vehicles themselves. It would not be excessive to call the next couple of years a genuine watershed in the development of UAVs.


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