China is Building Ground-Effect, Anti-Ship Drone
A new Chinese anti-ship drone could be in the pipeline, with technologies derived from developments in cruise missiles and ground-effect vehicles.
According to IHS Jane, an image of a brochure marketing the weapon made rounds across Chinese online forums earlier this month. Based on its ad, the new weapon system has a maximum take-off weight of 3,000 kilograms, a maximum payload capacity of 1,000 kilograms, and a maximum endurance of 1.5 hours. It could also cruise at an altitude of 1 to 6 meters and a service ceiling in excess of 3 kilometers.
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Although no details on the speed or range have been provided, the brochure indicated that the new weapon could be used to aim a large surface target at sea, potentially through long-range, high-speed torpedo attacks.
Thanks to its ground effect principle, the new unmanned drone could also allegedly fly just 18 inches above the water surface. Against typical sea skimmers, a ship radar 30 feet above sea level could detect an incoming missile at 15.4 miles. But the same radar would only detect the Chinese drone at 9.48 miles, Popular Mechanics reported. It also features a low-wing design, putting the wing root at the bottom of the fuselage, which is a common feature of ground effect vehicles.
The brochure also indicated that the weapon system has "a heavy payload, strong strike capabilities, good stealth characteristics, and is highly survivable."
The document revealed that the weapon, called as the 'ground-effect unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), carried a 'CHI' designation that is usually associated with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation's Cai Hong (Rainbow) family of UAVs.