EDIT: Jane's article
A monstrous bird has been unveiled: The Divine Eagle High Altitude Long Endurance UAV.
Some grainy and heavily censored photos have been posted on Chinese military forums yesterday, showing a giant twin-headed bird sitting on an airfield in Shenyang.
It is powered by a single high-bypass WS-10 engine without afterburner (WS-20) and has a wingspan of approx 60m.
It is basically China's equivalent to the MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance UAV, but it is considerably larger and has a novel twin-body layout, which enables it to carry more radars and sensors distributed around its body.
It is suppossed to be China's mainstay counter-stealth asset, as it is equipped with four UHF-band AESA offering 360° detection. Also, it would be used as ASBM detection and mid-course guidance asset as well. All in all, a persistent AEW plane that is flying at 25km altitude. There has been a writeup some month ago about its mainden flight, but until now, no photos exist:
A different initial configuration was revealed, but the role remains unchanged. This graphic here from a research paper shows the distributed radar/sensor loadout around the UAV:
The 7 radars include a X/UHF AMTI Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar on the front, two X/UHF AMTI/SAR/GMTI AESA radars on the twin booms, two X/UHF AMTI AESA radars on either side of the engine nozzles, and two more radars on the end of the booms. AMTI and GMTI radars are used for tracking air and surface targets, respectively, while SAR is used to provide detailed imagines of ground targets like bases and infrastructure
And its role in detecting stealth-planes and carrier groups, while flying at very high altitude:
All in all, this seems to be a priority project for the PLAAF and PLANAF, as China badly needs assets that can persistently monitor Chinese near waters around the clock for the establishment of China's plannes ADIZes in the SCS along with the one ins the East China Sea. Further, this asset would give China an additional redundancy in the ASBM kill-chain.
< Message edited by Hongjian -- 5/28/2015 2:08:01 PM >