‘Fly­ing radar’ is first early-warn­ing drone

China Daily - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China Elec­tron­ics Tech­nol­ogy Group Corp has built the world’s first early-warn­ing drone, which it calls a “fly­ing radar”.

The un­piloted plane, the JY-300, de­vel­oped and made by the State-owned de­fense con­glom­er­ate’s 38th Re­search In­sti­tute, has radars on its air­frame ca­pa­ble of long­time, long-range sur­veil­lance of air­craft and ships, said Rong Haichun, a se­nior de­signer with the in­sti­tute, which is based in He­fei, An­hui prov­ince.

“The JY-300 is the world’s first un­manned air­craft that in­te­grates radars with air­frame, which means radar an­ten­nae are part of the craft’s skin,” Rong told China Daily by phone on Fri­day from the side­lines of the on­go­ing 12th China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion in Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince.

The drone fea­tures easy con­trol and main­te­nance, high re­li­a­bil­ity and long ser­vice life. It is suit­able for re­con­nais­sance and mon­i­tor­ing of he­li­copters, ships and even anti-ship mis­siles, the de­signer said, adding that it can make au­tonomous take­offs, flights and land­ings.

The drone can be mounted with sea-tar­get de­tec­tion radar, syn­thetic aper­ture radar and op­ti­cal and elec­tronic sur­veil­lance ap­pa­ra­tus, ac­cord­ing to Rong.

The JY-300 has an oper­a­tional range of more than 1,000 kilo­me­ters, a flight alti­tude of about 5 km and can de­tect fighter jets from around 50 km away, sources from the in­sti­tute said. They said en­gi­neers will con­tinue to up­grade the model to ex­tend its flight range and alti­tude and also make it ca­pa­ble of de­tect­ing stealth air­craft.

Wu Peixin, an ed­i­tor at Aero­space Knowl­edge, said other mil­i­tary drones are able to mon­i­tor and track ground tar­gets but can­not de­tect air­craft or ships, so they are not fit for early-warn­ing op­er­a­tions. The JY-300 is char­ac­ter­ized by its low pro­duc­tion and oper­a­tional costs and long flight time, and there­fore can be de­ployed on a large scale along with a naval task group in ocean­go­ing mis­sions, he said.

Such a craft will en­able users to im­prove their ca­pa­bil­ity for de­tect­ing and track­ing low-fly­ing tar­gets on the sea, thus en­hanc­ing their fleets’ safety, Wu said.

He sug­gested that coun­tries that want to field aerial ear­ly­warn­ing sys­tems but can­not af­ford manned early-warn­ing air­craft could con­sider the JY-300.

Be­fore the JY-300, China Elec­tron­ics Tech­nol­ogy Group, the Chi­nese mil­i­tary’s largest con­trac­tor of radar sys­tems, brought a host of ear­ly­warn­ing sys­tems to the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket, in­clud­ing the Silk Road Eye ear­ly­warn­ing plane. The plane fea­tures a new type of ac­tive phased ar­ray tech­nol­ogy that other types in the mar­ket do not have, mak­ing it very com­pet­i­tive, the com­pany said.

SHANG SUJUAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

The JY-300 early-warn­ing drone is dis­played in Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince, on Fri­day.

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