China To Expand Drone Offerings With Star Shadow UCAV

China To Expand Drone Offerings With Star Shadow UCAV

China To Expand Drone Offerings With Star Shadow UCAV china to expand drone offerings with star shadow ucav China To Expand Drone Offerings With Star Shadow UCAV e22

At the 2018 Singapore Air Show, a company from Chengdu – Star UAV System Company – is promoting its stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), the Star Shadow, to prospective export customers.

Designed as a blended-wing and twin jet-engine platform, the Star Shadow will have a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 4,000 kg, endurance of 12 hours and cruising speed as well as cruising altitude of 600 km/h and nearly 40,000 ft, respectively. It will have a radius of 2,000 km and payload of 400 kg.

Star UAV aims to have the Star Shadow fly in 2019. The Star Shadow’s turbofan engine – i.e. the 200 kg TWS800 – is being designed and developed by a sister company (Shephard Media). As per IHS Jane’s, the engines are being developed by the Chengdu Chinese Academy of Sciences Aircraft Engine Co Ltd.

Interestingly, China’s state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) is offering a jet-powered UAV platform of its own in the Cloud Shadow. Like the Star Shadow, the Cloud Shadow has a payload of 400 kg, but with a cruising altitude of 46,000 ft and cruising speed of 620 km/h.

However, the Star Shadow appears to have an internal payload bay, positioning it as a potentially credible stealth attack platform. In fact, Star UAV System Company claimed (via IHS Jane’s) that the Star Shadow will have a RCS of 0.1 m2. Its sensors and weapons suite has yet to be detailed.

China’s UAV offerings, which encompass both state-backed designs from AVIC and beyond (through Star UAV System Company and Tengoen Tech) demonstrates a truly robust UAV industry, one spanning from the actual aircraft platforms to propulsion, onboard electronics and specially designed weapons. In fact, the undisclosed customer of the newly-launched Chengdu Aircraft Design and Research Institute (CADI) Wing Loong II appears to be the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which had ordered the Wing Loong I earlier.

Having long established the lead as a supplier of armed UAVs, especially to the non-NATO market (i.e. the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia), China is poised to reinforce its position through the availability of a diverse range of designs. The Star Shadow – along with the CH-5 and Cloud Shadow – point towards a willingness to offer potent attack capability to prospective customers who would have categorically no chance to acquire an analogous solution from the U.S. or Europe.


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