Tag: military tech

How Sidewinder Missiles Work?

The Sidewinder AIM-9 (air intercept missile 9) is classified as a short-range, air-to-air missile. Simply put, its job is to launch from an airborne aircraft and “kill” an enemy aircraft (damage it to the point that it goes down).

Missiles like the Sidewinder are called smart weapons because they have built-in seeking systems that let them home in on a target.




The technology of smart weapons really got going in the decade following World War II. Most early guided weapon prototypes were built around radar technology, which proved to be expensive and problematic.

These missiles had their own radar sensors, but obviously could not carry their own radar transmitters.

For the guidance system to lock on an enemy plane, some remote radar system had to “illuminate” the target by bouncing radar beams off of it.

In most cases, this meant the pilot had to keep the aircraft in a vulnerable position after firing in order to keep a radar lock on the enemy until the missile could find it.

Additionally, the radar equipment in the missile was large and expensive, which made for a high-cost, bulky weapon. Most of these missiles had something around a 90 percent failure rate (nine shots out of 10 missed their targets).

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China’s New Stealth Fighter Is Finally Combat-Ready

China’s long-anticipated J-20 stealth fighter aircraft have arrived … kind of.

In a post on the state outlet Xinhua News Agency, the Chinese government announced that the fighter jet — created to counter the capabilities of the American F-22 Raptor — has entered service in the People’s Liberation Army with “comprehensive combat capabilities.”

The J-20, like the F-22 Raptor, uses a specially-shaped airframe and advanced materials to minimize its radar signature — making it hard for enemies to detect by conventional means.

The advanced aircraft has long been the subject of intense speculation, with details about its design and technology trickling out in dribs and drabs.

While the J-20 is operational, it doesn’t yet have the capabilities to match its American counterparts, the South China Morning Post, a major Hong Kong newspaper, reported.




Two military sources told the Post that the J-20s in service aren’t equipped with the WS-15 engines they were built to fly with.

According to the Post’s reporting, a WS-15 engine exploded in 2015 during a ground test, indicating quality-control issues with the single-crystal turbine blades necessary for the powerful turbofan engine.

The operational J-20s, the Post reported, are instead equipped with less powerful, modified WS-10B engines designed for the previous-generation Chinese fighters, the J-10s and J-11s.

And even with enhancements for use in the J-20, they aren’t powerful enough to enable the J-20s to “supercruise” like U.S. stealth fighters.

Only two other countries, the U.S. and Russia, build “fifth-generation fighters” like the J-20.

The U.S. has the F-22 Raptor as well as the uber-expensive, slow-to-arrive F-35. Russia flies the Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA stealth fighter. India and Japan also have fifth-generation fighters in development.

The exact definition of “fifth generation” is a bit vague.

But public documents from China Power, an American project geared toward researching Chinese power suggest that fifth-gen aircraft are stealthy even when armed, can cruise at supersonic speeds and involve advanced computing, sensors and electronics.

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China Announces Plan For Hypersonic Jet That Can Reach New York From Beijing In Two Hours

A team of Chinese researchers has claimed to have designed a hypersonic jet that could travel at 6,000km/h, five times faster than the speed of sound.

The team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said the plane would be able to transport passengers and cargo from Beijing to New York in two hours – the journey currently takes an average of 13 and a half hours.

Cui Kai, who headed up the research, published a paper on the new design in this month’s Physics, Mechanics and Astronomy journal, in which he said: “It will take only a couple of hours to travel from Beijing to New York at hypersonic speed”.




The team said they had tested a scaled-down model of the jet in a wind tunnel, and that it reached speeds of 8,600km/h with low drag and high lift. To compare, Concorde’s top speed was 2,179km/h.

The design, dubbed the I Plane, features two layers of wings to reduce turbulence and drag while creating more lift.

Talk of hypersonic travel has been ramping up of late. “It’s certainly within the realm of possibility,” Dr Kevin Bowcutt, senior technical fellow and chief scientist of hypersonics for Boeing Research and Technology, told NBC last month.

I think we have the technology now where we could actually do it.

Boeing has dipped its toe in the water with its X-51A WaveRider, and it is now reportedly working with Lockheed Martin to develop a jet-powered hypersonic aircraft – although both are keeping schtum about the design.

Supersonic commercial planes – those that travel faster than 1,236km/h, the speed of sound – are likely to be the precursor to hypersonic jets.

Boom Supersonic, for example, plans to produce passenger aircraft that can travel at MACH 2.2, or 2,335km/h, that will enter service in 2023.

These jets could carry 50 passengers, flying from New York to London in three hours and 15 minutes. But it won’t come cheap; fares are expected to cost $2,500 one way.

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China Appears To Have Rushed Its J-20 Stealth Fighter Into Service

Chinese state media announced on Friday that the Chengdu J-20 stealth jet had officially entered into service as a combat-ready platform— but inside sources say it’s a long way from fighting fit and has an embarrassing flaw.

Citing military sources with knowledge of the J-20’s development, the South China Morning Post reported that the jets that entered service didn’t feature the engines China custom-built for the platform but used older ones instead.

The result is an underpowered, less stealthy jet that can’t cruise at supersonic speeds and is therefore not a true fifth-generation fighter.




The Posts’ sources pinned the jet’s troubles on a test in 2015 in which the custom-built engine, the WS-15, exploded — something they attributed to China’s inability to consistently build engines that can handle the extreme heat of jet propulsion.

It’s so embarrassing to change engines for such an important aircraft project several times … just because of the unreliability of the current WS-15 engines,” one of the sources told the Post.

It is the long-standing core problem among home-grown aircraft.

How old engines make the J-20 fight like an old fighter

The older engine, the WS-10B, is basically the same kind used in the J-11 and J-10 fighters in 1998 and 2002.

Without the new engines, the J-20 can’t supercruise, or fly faster than the speed of sound without igniting its afterburners, like the US’s F-22 and F-35 can.

Experts have assessed that the goal of the J-20 platform is to launch long-range missiles at supersonic speeds, but they won’t perform as well if they can’t fire at such speeds, Bronk said.

The major drawback from not having the ability to supercruise in this case would be having to choose between using a great deal of fuel to go supersonic or stay subsonic and accept shorter effective range from the fighter’s missiles and an inferior energy position compared to a supercruising opponent,” he said.

A senior scientist working on stealth aircraft who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of their work previously told Business Insider that the J-20’s design had a decent stealth profile from the front angle but could be exposed from others.

According to Bronk, the older engines may exacerbate that problem.

A US Air Force affiliate researching the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force told Business Insider that an analysis of imagery suggested the service’s 9th Brigade traded its Russian-made Su-30s for J-20s, but they disputed whether the jet was operational in the way Western militaries use the word

The researcher said that even for planes that aren’t stealth and as radically different as the J-20, that could take up to a year, adding that the new WS-15 engines most likely won’t be added until 2020.

So while China claims it has become the only nation other than the US to field a fifth-generation stealth jet, at the moment it looks as if it’s hardly stealth, hardly fifth-generation, and a long way from the field.

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The Chinese Military’s Next Generation: Exoskeletons

 

When looking at advances in technology, the hope is it will be used in non-violent or destructive ways; in other words, not for military use.

Unfortunately, thinking along these lines are unrealistic and with the current climate we are living in, the military will gladly accept anything with technology that can protect soldiers from harm, cause ultimate damage on the enemy and protect civilians from any kind of a missile attack.

Recently, an article described such an advance in military technology as China is working right now on a new generation of military exoskeletons.

Reportedly, they are moving closer to having Iron Man-like capabilities.




Writers Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer posted an article that looks at how China is working on advancing their technology when it comes to military exoskeleton’s.

Their latest powered exoskeleton is able to transport roughly one-hundred pounds of supplies, gear and ammunition. This would increase the self-sufficiency and combat capability of the infantry for the Chinese.

What Is an Exoskeleton?

Before moving on, it is important to understand first what an exoskeleton is and why the military would want to develop one.

Known as an exosuit, powered armor, hardsuit, power armor and an exoframe; a powered exoskeleton is a wearable machine that is mobile and powered using a system of hydraulics, electric motors, pneumatic’s, levers or a combo of technologies that enable movement of limbs with added endurance and strength.

Obviously, this would allow a soldier to perform important tasks on a mission that would not have been accomplished without using one.

Norinco Manufacturer’s Second-Generation Exoskeleton

Norinco is a manufacturer that is owned by China that produces heavy ground munitions and armored vehicles. They also have created its second-generation military exoskeleton.

The debut of this new exoskeleton boasts a designed body brace that will assist members of the infantry to carry roughly one-hundred pounds of ammunition, weapons and supplies.

Norinco had previously debuted its first-generation exoskeleton back in 2015 and comparing it to their new one, it has a streamlined harness, the battery is considered better, and a more robust pneumatic and hydraulic actuator.

This new generation is said to be lighter and most likely will lower the strain felt by the wearer of the exoskeleton; this would be more beneficial for soldiers finding themselves in a mountainous terrain.

The Implications for Combat Operations

The push by China to develop powerful exoskeletons will impact almost every area involving combat operations.  Their special operators and infantry would be able to transport heavy equipment over long distances as well as individuals being able to utilize body armor.

That is, if their plans become successful.  Also, the exoskeletons would look like the Americans concepts that include the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit – none of these can yet fly like Iron Man.

While the exoskeletons would not be able to accomplish the amazing feats as seen in Iron Man comics and movies, the more practical uses for soldiers would be to help completing many support tasks, which include repairing ships, loading supplies and getting missiles onto airplanes.

Meanwhile, China’s next generation of military Exoskeletons are one step closer to executing feats that were once considered to be science fiction; son, they will become science fact.

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Ehang’s Passenger-Carrying Drones Look Insanely Impressive In First Test Flights

Two years ago, Chinese drone maker Ehang came to CES in Las Vegas and promised to build a completely autonomous, passenger-carrying quadcopter that would revolutionize mobility.

Many of us in the tech community chortled under our breath, wondering if such a thing was even possible, let alone advisable.

Today, the company released footage of its first piloted test flights in China — and color us impressed: this thing is no joke.

Ehang’s engineers put the quadcopter, dubbed the Ehang 184, through a battery of tests over the last several months, and with good measure.




The company conducted over 1,000 test flights with human passengers, including a 984-foot vertical climb, a weight test carrying over 500 pounds, a routed test flight covering 9.3 miles, and a high-speed cruising test that reached 80.7 mph.

Ehang’s engineers also tested the 184 in a variety of weather conditions, including high heat, heavy fog, night tests, and during a Category 7 typhoon with gale-force winds.

Clearly, it would seem that Ehang heard our skepticism after its first announcement and it aimed to respond with supporting data.

What we’re doing isn’t an extreme sport, so the safety of each passenger always comes first,” said Ehang founder and CEO Huazhi Hu in a statement.

Now that we’ve successfully tested the Ehang 184, I’m really excited to see what the future holds for us in terms of air mobility.”

The key word there is “mobility,” as it often is with these types of ventures. Ehang wants to put its egg-shaped, multirotor aircraft in use as an air taxi, shuttling passengers across dense urban environments.

The company has said it would demonstrate this service for Dubai’s World Government Summit later this month, but a spokesperson didn’t respond whether that was still the case.

Dubai is also working with Germany’s Volocopter on a similar air taxi service. If that doesn’t work, Ehang has permission from the state of Nevada to test the Ehang 184 at its FAA-approved UAV test site.

Ehang says the 184, which is all electric, can carry a single passenger up to 10 miles or roughly 23 minutes of flight. The person in the cockpit doesn’t do any piloting; they just input their destination and enjoy the ride.

The company claims its aircraft is able to take off autonomously, fly a route, sense obstacles, and land.

And if anything goes wrong, a human pilot is supposed to step in and take over the controls from a remote command station.

Ehang sees luxury rides for rich folks as the first phase of this new market, with autonomous aircraft becoming more widely available at lower prices after fleets and flight paths have become well established, and, of course, once the cost of having a human pilot around is eliminated.

Despite its early successful test flights, Ehang says it is making improvements to the aircraft.

More emphasis will be placed on improving passenger experience and on adding an option for manual control, giving passengers with piloting experience the choice to operate the vehicle manually.

In addition, the company has already developed and tested a two-seater with a payload of up to 617 pounds (280 kilograms).

Ehang has proven that its autonomous aerial vehicle can fly, which is no small feat.

But proving that it can scale up into a full-blown aerial taxi service is an entirely different challenge and something with which a number of giant, multibillion-dollar companies are currently wrestling.

There’s a vertical take-off and landing gold rush going on right now, and Ehang clearly wants to prove itself a major player.

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