Daily Archives: February 1, 2016

China’s Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAV

 Published by The Independent

Divine Eagle: How much of a threat is China’s new high-flying drone to US air superiority?

The US has led the way in the use of stealth aircraft in combat. Now the game could soon be up, as scientists in China and Russia are discovering ways to make the invisible visible. Mark Piesing reports
Fly bye: the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter could become an outdated weaponFly bye: the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter could become an outdated weapon Rex Features

In May, grainy pictures emerged of a huge new twin-fuselage, high-altitude Chinese drone called the Divine Eagle. Those in the know instantly labelled it the “stealth-hunting drone”. Stealth technology is the equivalent of electronic camouflage for planes, making them hard for enemy radar to spot – but the Chinese drone is certainly big enough to carry the special radars developed to detect stealth aircraft. It’s able to fly high enough to detect them long before they can reach their targets. Its radar is rumoured to have been able to pick out an American stealth F-22 Raptor off the coast of South Korea almost 500km away.

To some analysts, the Chinese drone represents the death of stealth – for others, merely a serious threat to the future of the technology on which America has based its air superiority.

Stealth, or “low observable technology”, is a combination of aircraft design, tactics and electronic countermeasures designed to make planes less visible to radar and other systems, which the US has pioneered. As well as trying to create the lowest possible radar signature by getting rid of the tail, it also tries to reduce things such as infrared emissions from the engine exhaust and electromagnetic emissions from the computers on board. Stealth tactics involve looking for gaps in air-defence systems.

When people think of stealth aircraft, they tend to picture the triangular black F-117 stealth fighter and B-2 bombers that penetrated Saddam Hussein’s much-vaunted air defences at the start of both Gulf wars – or perhaps the troubled Lockheed F-35 Lightning stealth fighter programme on which the UK has gambled the future of its aircraft carriers. However, the Horten Ho 229 flying wing developed by the Nazis during the Second World War was probably the first. While the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird spy plane used some basic stealth technology, the great leap forward in stealth really occurred in the 1970s with the Lockheed Have Blue project to develop a stealth fighter. This programme led directly to the F-117 and B-2.

Read rest of article: HERE




Since photos in May 2015 emerged of the Divine Eagle, China’s giant UAV has been getting a lots of international attention. With its giant, double bodied design, carrying high performance anti-stealth radars, the drones are a potential key part of China’s offensive and defensive military strategy in the coming years. Formations of Divine Eagle UAVs are expected to provide an early warning line to detect threats to China’s airspace, like cruise missiles and stealth bombers, as well as be able to take on such missions as hunting for aircraft carriers in the open waters of the Pacific.

Divine Eagle China UAVBlitzo at China Defense Forum – Divine Eagle – By using the single deck bus in the background (probably 3.2 meters tall, like most buses of its type) as a very crude visual yardstick, a very rough comparison suggests that the Divine Eagle is about 6 meters tall, and 15 meters long (since most high altitude large UAVs have a wingspan to body length ratio of 2.5:1 to 3:1, the wingspan of the Divine Eagle is likely its be 35 to 45 meters across). With a maximum take off weight of at least 15 tons, the Divine Eagle is the world’s largest UAV, edging out the RQ-4 Global Hawk.

In late June 2015, new photos emerged of the Divine Eagle prototype, allowing a clearer look at its details. The Divine Eagle has a single engine nestled between its tailfins, with a diameter of over 1 meter. This makes the engine likely to be a medium non-afterburning turbofan producing 3 to 5 tons of thrust, which in turn is usually enough to power a UAV of 12-18 tons in maximum takeoff weight. In comparison, the largest American UAV in open service, the RQ-4 Global Hawk, uses a F-137-RR-100 turbofan engine with 3.4 tons of thrust. The Divine Eagle has a five wheel landing gear layout. The double bodied layout was chosen in order to provide the surface area for carrying large radars, while minimizing internal volume and weight.

ImageIron Eagle via Weibo – Color in the Eagle – This CGI offers a view of the differing yellow, green and grey blue primer coatings on the Divine Eagle suggest the usage of different materials like composite and aluminum alloys for different sections of the UAV. For example, the grey blue forward dome on the port (left) body is likely to contain a satellite dish for long distance communications, while the grey blue sections on the twin bodied fuselage likely house radar arrays.

By using the single deck bus in the background (probably 3.2 meters tall, like most buses of its type) as a very crude visual yardstick, a very rough comparison suggests that the Divine Eagle is 6 meters tall, and 15 meters long (since most high altitude large UAVs have a wingspan to body length ratio of 2.5:1 to 3:1, the wingspan of the Divine Eagle is likely its be 35 to 45 meters across). The differing yellow, green and grey blue primer coatings on the Divine Eagle suggest the usage of different materials like composite and aluminum alloys for different sections of the UAV. For example, the grey blue forward dome on the port (left) body is likely to contain a satellite dish for long distance communications, suggesting that the material used in the grey blue sections are likely to be highly permeable to electromagnetic waves. The grey blue is also to be found on the starboard side of the right body (facing outside), and if the airframe composition is symmetrical, likely to be found on the portside of the left body (also facing out). Such electromagnetic permeables are likely to house the Divine Eagle’s long range anti-stealth radars (radomes are made of radar transparent materials), indicating that its radar arrays are 10 meters long, which suggests transmitting lower frequency (L and S Band) radar waves (most stealth aircraft are optimized to evade higher frequency, such as X band, radar). The green primer likely covers lightweight materials such as composite, while the yellow primer near the engine suggests some stronger metal alloy, probably to support the engine weight and height.

China Divine Eagle UAVHongjian via China Defense Forum – Divine Eagle Hunts – The offensive applications of the Divine Eagle are demonstrated here, as two Divine Eagles mark out not just the enemy aircraft carrier, but also its escorting warships and aviation wing, while vectoring friendly aircraft and ships into combat. One presumes that the Divine Eagle would also be able to find targets for the infamous DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile.

There is much to learn about the system, but its significance is great. Given the long endurance of the huge Divine Eagle, it could in the future take on tasks that range from watching over China’s manmade South China Sea islands to tailing foreign warships in waters near and far.

Copyright © 2016 Popular Science. A Bonnier Corporation Company. All rights reserved.

Read Original article: HERE

Size comparison 


China’s Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAV is probably an interferometer

Form follows function.

Why would China build a complex double-body aircraft instead of a single large fuselage (like the Global Hawk)?

The only scientific explanation is an interferometer.

Satellites in space (where there is no air) can fly in fix formations and perform as a single larger interferometer. An example is China’s NOSS (ie. Naval Ocean Surveillance Satellite) triple satellite formation.

The problem with aircraft is air turbulence. It’s difficult to maintain a fixed distance between two radar receivers.

Thus, China’s Divine Eagle UAV has two long connected fuselages to serve as an interferometer that detects longer-wavelength L-band electromagnetic waves.

As a reminder, an interferometer dramatically increases the resolution (or clarity) of a returned radar signal. However, it does not affect the range of the radar. Also, an interferometer requires an atomic clock to time-stamp the two sets of images (or data) and allow post-processing algorithms to refine the picture.

Question: If NASA can create an L-band interferometer on a single fuselage airplane, why did China use a double-body design?

Answer: China needs longer range. Thus, the emitters (e.g. two L-band radars in the radomes) have to be much larger to allow for more power. This would explain the two large radomes on China’s Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAV.Also, China could be using a VHF interferometer. The two long fixed-distance fuselages would allow for the transmission and reception of long-wavelength VHF signals.

More T/R modules in bulbous radomes result in a more powerful L-band AESA radar

An L-band AESA radar is based on individual transmit/receive (T/R) modules. By increasing the number of modules in the bulbous radomes, the number of constructive interference waves has been increased. This results in increased range. Another way of expressing the increased range is to say there has been an increase in the power of the radar.

The L-band radar is more powerful, because more T/R modules have been placed in the radomes of the Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAV.

VHF wavelength starts at 1 meter and requires the length of the Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAVSince VHF wavelength is one meter and higher, very few VHF T/R modules can be placed in the radomes. Thus, due to the constraints imposed by physics, the only place to locate a VHF AESA radar with reasonable resolution is along the length of the fuselage.To achieve interferometry, it would require two fuselages at a fixed distance from each other. The Chinese Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAV fulfills both requirements.
———-By the way, an atomic clock is a small box and could easily be carried on-board the Divine Eagle UAV.

“Rubidium clocks are the most compact method of atomic time keeping. These are commonly used on satellites.”

Divine Eagle UAV is most likely an interferometer based on China’s fourth-generation airborne L-band AESA radar


China’s Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAV is probably the world’s first military airborne L-band radar interferometer.

China is an expert at L-band phased array radars. An example is the Chinese ground-based YLC-2 L-band phased array radar.

The Chinese Divine Eagle UAV should be a continuation of China’s miniaturization in airborne L-band phased array anti-stealth technology.

1st generation: KJ-200 “balance beam” AEW&C with L-band phased array radar (first flight November 2001)
2nd generation: KJ-2000 Mainring AWACS with L-band phased array radar (first flight 2003)
3rd generation: ZDK-03 AEW&C with L-band phased array radar (first flight November 2010)*
4th generation: Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAV L-band interferometer (2015)

China has 15 years of experience with airborne phased array L-band radars. We expect China’s software algorithms and filters to be optimized for L-band radar interferometry.

China’s KJ-2000 AWACS and passive detector Divine Eagle L-band UAV would be a devastating anti-stealth combination

KJ2000 AWACS: Details

According to Australia Air Power, China’s KJ-2000 AWACS uses L-band radar to search for stealth aircraft.

The distance from the KJ-2000 AWACS L-band radar emitter to the target is 470km. The distance from the target to the radar receiver on the KJ-2000 AWACS is another 470km. Thus, the total distance from the KJ-2000 AWACS L-band radar emitter to the receiver is 940km.

By using the KJ-2000 AWACS with a silent listening partner in the Divine Eagle (which has an extremely sensitive L-band interferometer), the KJ-2000 AWACS can illuminate a stealth aircraft at 840km and have the Divine Eagle pick up the signal at 100km away from the target.

By figuratively separating the receiver from the KJ-2000 AWACS and moving it much further down the field, a stealth aircraft can be detected at an extreme range of 840km by the Divine Eagle anti-stealth UAV.

Divine Eagle UAV is a 10,000 T/R module L-band Interferometer

Whether you use the bus or the UAV itself as a benchmark, the height of the Divine Eagle UAV is about 1.5 meter in height.


“By using the single deck bus in the background (probably 3.2 meters tall, like most buses of its type) as a very crude visual yardstick, a very rough comparison suggests that the Divine Eagle is about 6 meters tall….”
The radome is usually equidistant in the vertical and horizontal directions. This means the horizontal width of the Divine Eagle UAV radome is about 1.5 meters. The Divine Eagle interferometer has a diameter of 5 radomes or 7.5 meters.


The diameter of the Divine Eagle L-band interferometer is 7.5 meters. L-band is 0.15m. However, the transmit/receive (T/R) module of an AESA radar is built with a half-wave dipole antenna design. In the case of L-band, the half-wave of 0.15m is 0.075m.

7.5 meters / 0.075 meter per T/R module = 100 T/R modules horizontally
An AESA radar is mostly circular in shape. The horizontal and vertical lengths are approximately equal.


The calculation of a square 100 T/R module (horizontally) x 100 T/R module (vertically) AESA radar is a close approximation of an actual circular AESA radar.

100 T/R modules horizontally x 100 T/R modules vertically = 10,000 T/R modules in total
Divine Eagle L-band interferometer is eight times more sensitive than F-35 X-band AESA radar.


10,000 Divine Eagle L-band T/R module interferometer / 1,200 F-35 X-band T/R module AESA radar = Eight times greater sensitivity based on module count

Why does China’s Divine Eagle UAV have a maximum altitude of 79,000 feet?

According to Popular Science, China’s Divine Eagle UAV has a maximum altitude of 25km (or 79,000 feet).

In contrast, the US Global Hawk has a maximum altitude of only 18km (or 57,000 feet).

Why is there a huge difference of 22,000 feet between China’s Divine Eagle and the US Global Hawk?

The most likely explanation is the two UAVs are designed for different roles.

The US Global Hawk was designed for reconnaissance. It is looking for ground targets.

The Chinese Divine Eagle UAV was designed to detect stealth fighters and bombers.

The total path length from a KJ-2000 AWACS transmitter-(to target)-(to receiver) is about 900km. By using a passive Divine Eagle UAV L-band receiver, it permits a much earlier detection of a stealth aircraft by about 200 to 300km (or 120 to 180 miles). By flying at nearly 80,000 feet, the Divine Eagle passive receiver can avoid being illuminated by the KJ-2000 AWACS L-band radar.

Alternatively, a high-flying Divine Eagle UAV can use its UHF/VHF dual-fuselage interferometer to detect a stealth aircraft. If the Divine Eagle was flying at the same altitude as an F-22, the other fuselage would block the transmission/reception of the UHF/VHF array. By flying at nearly 80,000 feet, the Divine Eagle dual-fuselage interferometer would have an unobstructed view of a stealth aircraft.


The Chinese KJ-2000 AWACS has a service ceiling of 42,651 feet.[1]
The American F-22 has a service ceiling of 60,000 feet.[2]

Martin Su asiawind.com


1. Shaanxi KJ-2000 (Mainring) – Airborne Early Warning and Control (AWACs) – Development and Operational History, Performance Specifications and Picture Gallery
2. F-22 Raptor Specifications

Xian Y-20 Heavy Military Transport Aircraft

China’s first indigenously-developed heavy military transport aircraft, Y-20, was built by Xi’an Aircraft Industry (Group), a part of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), for the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). It is also the biggest domestic strategic airlifter ever built in China.

The aircraft can be deployed in the transportation of personnel and heavy equipment during military assault, and humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping missions. It can also be configured for airborne early warning and control (AEW&C), anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and aerial refuelling missions.

“The first Xian Y-20 prototype successfully made its first flight at Shaanxi Yanliang Aviation Base in January 2013.”

Y-20 gives air power a push: Here

Maiden flight – sinodefenceforum.com


The successful maiden flight of the Y-20, China’s first domestically developed heavy air freighter, marks a step in the country’s goal of building a strategic air power, according to military experts and observers.

“A genuine strategic air power must possess a strong power projection capability, which is highly reliant on large aircraft, namely a strategic air freighter and a strategic bomber,” Wang Yanan, deputy editor-in-chief at Aerospace Knowledge magazine and a military analyst, said.

The first Xian Y-20 prototype successfully made its first flight at Shaanxi Yanliang Aviation Base in January 2013. The second prototype took into skies in December 2013. The aircraft was displayed at China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition 2014 (Airshow China) held in Zhuhai.

Third prototype (S/N 783)

The first aircraft entered service in July 2016, while the PLAAF needs 400 Y-20 transport aircraft.

Operators: Here

PLAAF reportedly receives first Y-20 airlifter

17 June 2016

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has reportedly received the first of more than 1,000 Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) Y-20 heavy strategic transport aircraft.

Chinese social media reported the delivery of aircraft 11051 and 11052 to Chengdu-Qionglai Air Base on 15 June, though there has been no official confirmation.

News of the apparent delivery comes on the back of the maiden flight of the fifth prototype aircraft earlier this year, and a report by former Chinese test pilot Xu Yongling in January that the Y-20 had completed its developmental testing at the end of 2015.

Just days prior to the arrival of the first two aircraft at Chengdu-Qionglai Air Base, Chinese state media reported that the PLAAF needs more than 1,000 Y-20s to satisfy its strategic airlift needs (an increase on a 2014 stated requirement for up to 400).

While official specifications have not been disclosed, national media has attributed the four-turbofan Y-20 a payload of 66 tonnes, or 51 tonnes over 5,200 km. The Y-20 does not appear to have an aerial refuelling capability.

Russian and Ukrainian Antonov engineers are known to have served as design consultants on the Y-20, giving it a similar external appearance to the Antonov An-70 (minus the turboprops) which was co-developed by the erstwhile allies. The platform is also similar in appearance to the US-design Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. This could be down to industrial espionage, or it could just be that, when trying to achieve similar results using similar technologies, the Chinese came up with a similar looking solution. Source janes.com

Xian Y-20 development

Photo 81.com

The Y-20 project is part of an initiative to build China’s large transportation aircraft under the Medium-and Long-Term National Science and Technology Development Programme 2006-2020 (MLP).

Two major Chinese aviation companies, Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation and Xi’an Aircraft Corporation, expressed interest to develop the Y-20 aircraft, but Xi’an was announced as the manufacturer of Y-20 in 2007.

The 001 prototype (S/N 781) later wears a dark blue color scheme after being transferred to CFTE. The third prototype (S/N 783) made its maiden flight on December 16, 2013 and has been undergoing various tests at different locations. Additional prototypes were built and flew in 2015 including 785 and 788. The last prototype (789) flew for the first time on February 6, 2016. The last prototype (789) flew for the first time on February 6, 2016. It was reported in September 2015 that a pulse assembly line has been established at XAC and was ready for production. The R&D of Y-20A was reportedly completed by the end of 2015. The first two Y-20A (S/N 11051 & 11052) were handed over to PLAAF at XAC on June 15, 2016. They were formally inducted to PLAAF on July 6, 2016. They were expected to be followed by 2 more (11053 & 11054) by the end of 2016. Currently more Y-20As are being constructed at XAC. The latest image (August 2017) indicated at least 5 Y-20As are in service with PLAAF. Source chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com

Design and features of Y-20 heavy airlifter


The aircraft features deep and wide fuselage for cargo section and T-tail empennage configuration with high-mounted horizontal surfaces on the vertical stabiliser. The centre fuselage is hinged with moderately sweptback, high-mounted monoplane wings integrating triple-slotted trailing-edge flaps. A pair of engine nacelle is fitted under each wing.

Cook Lee



Takk D. Martin


Takk D. Martin

Takk D. Martin

The Y-20 airlifter has a glass cockpit, which accommodates three crew members. It features a rear cargo-loading assembly allowing the loading / unloading of large-sized cargo and equipment.


The aircraft measures 44m to 47m in length and 18m-high, and has a wingspan of 50m. The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is approximately 220t and the maximum payload carrying capacity is 66t.

Y-20 – chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com

China needs ‘more than 1,000’ Xian Y-20 transport aircraft

07 June 2016

During a 1-7 June technology innovation exhibition in Beijing, an official from the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) told the People’s Dailynewspaper that China required “more than 1,000” Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) Y-20 heavy strategic transport aircraft and that the country also plans to build transport aircraft comparable in size to that of the Antonov An-225 Mriya.

“More than 1,000 Y-20s will be needed,” Zhu Qian, head of AVIC’s Large Aircraft Development Office, told reporters, referring to the 200-tonne, 50- to 60-tonne cargo capacity, four turbofan-powered transport aircraft that first flew in January 2013.

While Zhu stated that this estimate “was based on the experience of the United States and Russia”, he did not provide any further details. In 2014 the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) National Defence University issued a report stating that China might require up to 400 Y-20 transport aircraft.

The People’s Daily also quoted a technical evaluation by China’s Aerospace Knowledge magazine as saying that the Y-20 can fly 5,200 km with a payload of 51 tonnes when fully fuelled. “This means it can reach everywhere in Europe and Asia, the US state of Alaska, Australia, and North Africa,” the paper said, adding that the aircraft has a maximum payload of 66 tonnes and a maximum take-off weight of more than 200 tonnes, according to military sources. The high payload means it can carry the PLA’s heaviest tank, the 58-tonne Type 99A2 main battle tank.

Zhu told the newspaper that China also plans to build “300-tonne, 400-tonne, and even 600-tonne aircraft”. In this context a 600-tonne aircraft would approach the size of the Antonov An-225 Mriya and the Airbus A380. Source janes.com

Strategic Airlift and Tactical Options

The large scale production of the Y-20 is a significant achievement of China’s state owned aviation industry, and forecasts China’s growing desire for a robust strategic airlift capability. Not only can the Y-20 transport a large amount of cargo or troops over a great distance, but it can even transport main battle tanks and other armored vehicles. With a maximum payload weight of 73 short tons, the Y-20 can transport the PLA’s most modern Type 99A or Type 96 MBTs, and any IFVs and APCs now in service. The aircraft has a maximum range exceeding 10,000 km (6,200 miles), and can carry a reduced payload of 40 short tons a range of 7,800 km. (4,850 miles). Range with the maximum payload of 73 short tons is approximately 4,500 km. (2,800 miles).

Very similar in design, dimensions and appearance to the Boeing C-17 Globemaster and Ilyushin IL-76, the Y-20 was built to fill the roles of strategic airlift, paratroop transport, and heavy airdrop missions. It is slightly larger than the IL-76, yet smaller that a C-17. With the C-17 no longer being produced by Boeing, having halted production in 2015, the Y-20 is now the largest military transport aircraft currently in production.

As China makes a concerted effort to secure its strategic interests both close to home, and as far away as the Horn of Africa, a viable strategic airlift capability is seen as essential. With a reported short takeoff ability of 700 meters (435 feet), the Y-20 can supply troops and supplies to any of China’s island outposts in the South China Sea that have an airstrip, such as Woody Island, Fiery Cross Reef, Mischief Reef or Subi Reef. Any military operations in response to territorial incursions on the part of other claimants to disputed territories in the region that required invading and occupying land would greatly depend on sufficient strategic airlift support. With tensions between China and the Philippines significantly lessened with the new Duterte administration, and cordial relations with Malaysia and Brunei, the likelihood of such a scenario has greatly reduced since last summer.

The aircraft can also greatly aid the PLA in maintaining the new military base at Doraleh, Djibouti. The new military base is located just eight miles from Camp Lemonnier, the largest U.S. military facility on the continent of Africa, and will serve as a logistics base capable of supporting Chinese maritime interests in the Indian Ocean, The Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. The Japanese Self Defense Forces also operate a small logistics support center adjacent to Camp Lemonnier, and will apparently be expanding this facility in response the Chinese project.

The question of Taiwan, and any future attempt to retake it by force of arms, would require a massive amphibious and airlift commitment. China lacks both at present, but as Southfront has diligently documented recently, the PLA and PLAN have greatly expanded and modernized their amphibious warfare capabilities. Any invasion of Taiwan would require not only a sizeable amphibious armada, but a substantial strategic airlift effort. The acquisition of up to a thousand Y-20s goes a long way towards building the nucleus of such a force. Source southfront.org

Photo 81.com

Other features include a four-crew glass cockpit with two HUDs and five large MFDs. A small FLIR (Enhanced Vision System/EVS) is installed below the forward windshield to assist taking off and landing under poor weather conditions.

Y-20 HUD – chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com

A dorsal SATCOM antenna is also seen behind the wings. The aircraft also features an FBW system. Overall Y-20A appears fatter and shorter than Il-76MD, bearing some resemblance to Japanese C-2 and Ukrainian An-70 transport. This suggests that its cargo bay dimension is a wider and taller, making it more versatile by being able to to carry a variety of oversize load, including ZBD-03 AFVs (at least 3) and one ZTZ99 MBT.

Y-20 cargo bay 

In addition a stretched variant is thought to be under development with a larger cargo space. The prototypes and the initial batch are powered by Russian D-30KP-2/WS-18 turbofan, later by the modified WS-10 (WS-20 Huanghe?) high-bypass turbofan (as Y-20B?). A static test airframe was seen in December 2016 featuring modified engine pylons. Y-20A is also expected to be converted into a tanker replacing the obsolete H-6U. It will also serve as the platform of the next generation AWACS (KJ-3000?) replacing KJ-2000. It was also rumored that the aircraft might serve as the testbed for the Chinese airborne laser weapon prototype similar to American YAL-1.  Source chinese-military-aviation.blogspot.com

KJ-3000, next generation of early warning aircraft picture

KJ-3000, next generation of early warning aircraft is most likely to adopt antenna and fuselage integrated patch radar.

The idea of using KJ-3000 patch type radar, chassis nature is shipped on Y-20 large transport aircraft.(source: flying, Lu small)  Source errymath.blogspot.com

‘Chubby Girl’s’ sister to boost China’s military capability

A refueling version of the Y-20 cargo plane will extend the reach of PLAAF aircraft and pierce the Pacific’s Second Island Chain to threaten US allies

China is looking to increase its air tanker fleet after its fighter jets, bombers and surveillance aircraft conducted an “island encirclement patrol” of Taiwan earlier this week.

As the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) extends exercises in the Western Pacific, refueling will become a problem for its strike aircraft.

The People’s Daily has already confirmed that the PLA’s Northern Theater Command will organize war-games to prepare pilots for more aerial refueling missions. But to do this, China will need to increase its air tanker fleet.

Yin Zhuo, a PLA Rear Admiral-turned military commentator, told the state broadcaster CCTV that a squadron of H-6K Badger bombers were capable of piercing the Second Island Chain after aerial refueling.

He was referring to the strategic containment line in the Pacific, which runs along the Ogasawara Islands and Volcano Islands of Japan, as well as the Mariana Islands, a United States territory.

Yin’s comments triggered speculation that the air tanker fleet could get an enhanced version of the new Y-20, which was brought into service as a cargo plane in 2013, and is known as “Chubby Girl”.

Reworked as a refueling workforce, it would take over from the 12 1950s-era H-6U tankers, which are too small to support long-distance air combat.

“Assuming air superiority within the first island chain and farther east of Taiwan, the combination of Y-20 aerial refueling and the H-6K bombers’ long-range missiles, puts the United States and partner forces operating outside the Second Island Chain, such as Alaska and Hawaii, at risk,” The National Interest magazine, which covers international affairs, reported, citing David Barr, a career intelligence officer with the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet.

Developed by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China, the Y-20 has a bulky fuselage, hence the “Chubby Girl” nickname, a shoulder wing and heavy-duty retractable landing gear,

The aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight is 242 tons and has four D-30KP-2 engines. The tanker version being developed would carry 110 tons of fuel, enough to refuel 20 J-10 fighters, according to Yin.

In addition, the PLAAF has been conducting exercises with its upgraded H-6K bomber, including aerial refueling. Source atimes.com


Boeing C-17 Globemaster: Details

Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A: Details

Antonov’s participation in the development of the Y-20?: Here


On the forum ”  forcesdz  “, a member raised the question of the Xian Aircraft Corporation Y-20 Kunpeng as a “Chinese design” heavy military transport aircraft : it reproduced a number of documents published on a Russian forum that apparently concern a device quite similar to the Chinese plane.

I think it is useful to recall the stages of relations between Antonov and certain Chinese manufacturers and / or decision makers, which have never ceased since 1959 when Ukrainian specialists from OKB-153 (Antonov) help the Chinese to launch the production of the An-2 under Soviet license. But in this article will be considered only the relations since 2000 regarding the development of transport aircraft including a heavy transport aircraft , whose acronym has been HTA (Heavy Transport Aircraft) .

The perspective of the characteristics of the aircraft mentioned in the document of Antonov, the Tяжелого Tранспортного Cамолета (literally Heavy Transport Aircraft) shows the state of progress of the joint work of the Chinese and Ukrainian teams:

Comparison of the Antonov AN-70, the “TTC” HTA and the final version of the Y-20

Antonov An-70: Details

Production of China’s New Airlifter Confirmed

China has confirmed series production of the Xian Y-20 “Kunpeng” strategic airlifter and a re-engining with domestically produced turbofans. Chinese state television announced the news at the same time as the go-ahead for production of the Y-20 stealth fighter was revealed.

Speaking to the Chinese media on the sidelines of the recent Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, Y-20 design chief Tang Chang Hong said that after eight months of operational trials, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is pleased with the airlifter. Tang revealed that a timetable is in place to install domestic engines for the Y-20 by next year or 2019. Currently the aircraft is powered by four Russian Soloviev D-30KP2 turbofans, producing 10.5 tonnes of thrust.

Chinese-made Shenyang-Liming WS-20 engines will produce 14 metric tons (30,864 lbs) of thrust, and thereby enable the Y-20 to achieve its maximum payload of 66 metric tons (146 lbs). Touted as China’s most powerful engine, the WS-20 has been flight-tested on an IL-76 testbed since 2014.

China Aviation News reported in 2016 that Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation has the capacity to produce more than 20 Y-20 annually. However, the production line is not meeting its full potential this year due to the limited number of D-30 deliveries and the uncertainty of the WS-20 re-engining program.

The successful development of the Y-20 is a testament to Chinese industry’s ability to produce large scale, high-end equipment and the mastery of technology by the Chinese scientist and researchers.” Tang said. “The Y-20 is a good starting point and will enable us to produce larger and more ‘important’ aircraft projects.” He also noted that a civilian variant of the Y-20 will be developed.

The Chinese media revealed in early March that the Y-20 could be used as a carrier for China’s air-launched rocket system. The head of the  China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, Li Tong Yu, said his agency has developed a new generation of air-launched space vehicle capable of delivering 100 kg (220 lbs) of payload into low-orbit. The Y-20 will be used to air-launch the rocket. A variant with a payload up to 200 kg (440 lbs) is under development.

Li highlighted that China in recent years has been developing numerous small satellites.  Deploying them via conventional rockets would be costly, and the Y-20 will aim to solve that problem. Source ainonline.com

Engines and performance


The power plant of the Y-20 prototypes integrates four D-30KP-2 turbofan engines, whereas the production aircraft is equipped with WS-20 engines. WS-20 is the most powerful aircraft engine developed by China.

The engine develops a power output of 14t and offers a higher bypass ratio for fuel efficiency. It will replace the less powerful and less efficient Russian D-30KP, which generates 10.5t of thrust. The WS-20 turbofan underwent trail on Il-76 test aircraft during 2014-2015. The aerial testing was concluded in 2015, paving the way for service entry on Y-20 aircraft.

The Y-20 aircraft can perform missions in adverse weather conditions and can also land at small airports in mountainous regions.

D-30KP-2 turbofan engines

D-30КU/КP – family of the turbofan engines for commercial and cargo / transport aircraft.
Design features
• 3 stages low pressure compressor
• 11 stages high pressure compressor
• cannular combustor (12 flame tubes)
• 2 stages high pressure turbine
• 4 stages low pressure turbine

• D-30KP and D-30KP-2 for Ilyushin-76/78 cargo / transport aircraft family
• D-30KU and D-30KU-2 for Ilyushin-62M long- / middle-range commercial jets
• D-30KU-154 for Tupolev-154M middle-range commercial jets


Engine D-30КU-154 D-30КU-2 D-30КP-2
Thrust at APR*, kgf  –
Take-off thrust, kgf 10 500 11 000 12 000
Specific fuel consumption at take-off, kg/(kgf∙hr) 0.498 0.498 0.510
Specific fuel consumption at cruise, kg/(kgf∙hr)** 0.715 0.685 0.705
Bypass ratio  2.50 2.31 2.24
Dimensions (L x D), m  5.698 x 1.560 5.698 x 1.560 5.448 x 1.560

* – automatic power reserve
** – (H=11 000 m, M=0.8)

Source npo-saturn.ru

WS-20 engines

With a power output of 14 tons, the WS-20 will replace the less powerful and less efficient Russian D-30KP, which has only 10.5 tons of thrust. The WS-20 turbofan has been flying on this Il-76 test aircraft since 2014, and it’s likely that aerial testing will wrap up in late 2015.

China has made progress in replacing foreign engines for its fighter programs, but it still relies on the D-30KP turbofan to power subsonic aircraft such as the Y-20 heavy transport and H-6K bomber. The WS-20 is believed to derive its engine core from the WS-10A turbofan engine, which powers the Shenyang J-11B and J-16 strike fighters.


The WS-20 entering into Chinese service would provide performance boosts to the Y-20, increasing its payload to 66 tons from the prototype’s 50 tons. That would give China the ability to fly heavy battle tanks and missile launchers across the Asian continent, as well as a larger Y-20-based aerial tanker. The WS-20 could also be a domestic powerplant for military derivatives of the C919 jetliner, which would be used for airborne warning and control, and anti-submarine missions. Source popsci.com

近日,中国试飞院一架试机试飞照曝光,其中悬挂在一侧的发动机为我国国产的大涵道比涡扇发动机WS-20。这是该型发动机首次亮相,未来将装备运-20。WS-20 (left) installed on the wing of a test flight 

4 × WS-20 powered Y-20 made maiden flight

dafeng cao

Landing gear

Cook Lee

The aircraft is equipped with a retractable landing gear comprising two main landing gear units and a nose unit. Each of the two main units on either side of under-fuselage features six wheels, which are arranged in a two-two-two layout from front-to back.

The steerable nose gear includes a standard twin-wheel leg unit. The landing gear allows take-offs and landings on rough airfields or unpaved runways.

Photo 81.com


Role Strategic airlifter
National origin People Republic of China
Manufacturer Xi’an Aircraft Industrial Corporation
First flight 26 January 2013
Introduction 26 December 2015
Number built 8
Unit cost
Crew 3: pilot, copilot & load master
Payload 66 tonnes
Length 47 m
Wingspan 45 m
Height 15 m
Wing area 330 m²
Empty weight 100,000 kg
Max. takeoff weight 220,000 kg
Powerplant 4 × turbofans
Fuel capacity
Cruise speed Mach 0.75
Range 4,500 km with max payload ; 7800 km with 40 tons ; 10,000+ km with paratroops.
Service ceiling 13,000 m
Max. wing loading 710 kg/m²

Specification defenceaviation.com

Main material source airforce-technology.com

Images are from public domain unless otherwise stated

Main image by yinlei

Revised Nov 05, 2017

Updated Feb 01, 2022

Absalon Class Combat / Flexible Support Ship, Denmark

The two Absalon Class vessels, built by Odense Steel Shipyard for the Danish Navy, are flexible support ships (combat support ships). The ships can be equipped for naval warfare, land attack, strategic sealift missions or as a command platform. They can also be configured as hospital ships or for emergency disaster relief.

HDMS Esbern Snare (L17) 

HDMS Absalon (L16) was launched in February 2004 and commissioned into the Royal Danish Navy in July 2004. The second of class, Esbern Snare (L17), was launched in June 2004 and commissioned in February 2005.

Weapon and combat system acceptance trials concluded with a test firing of the evolved Sea Sparrow missile (ESSM) in May 2008 to be followed by entry into service by the end of 2008.

HDMS Absalon (L16)

The installation and integration of the ship’s combat systems is managed by the Danish Naval Materiel Command (NMC) at the Korsoer Naval Base, except for the mk45 mod 4 gun which was installed during the construction of the ship by Odense Steel Shipyard at Lindo.

Absalon Class combat support ship design

The Absalon Class has a full load displacement of 6,300t. The hull is 137m long, has a 19.5m maximum beam and a 6.3m draught.

The ship design, with 16 watertight sections or compartments and two airtight bulkheads, incorporates survivability and damage limitation features including dual redundancy, automated damage control zones, damage detectors and smoke zones. The ship’s on-board battle damage and control system continuously monitors the status of the ship and incorporates a closed circuit television observation system with more than 50 cameras, fire fighting installations, sensors and alarms, a load and stability computer.

A roll-on roll-off ramp installed at the stern of the ship accesses the flex deck (flexible deck). The flex deck, providing 915m², and 250m of parking lanes, is about 90m long. The reinforced deck can embark vehicles up to 62t such as the Leopard II main battle tank.

Posted Image

The ship design incorporates stealth characteristics for low acoustic, radar, visual and infrared signatures. Shock protection and isolation are to STANAG 4142, 4137 and 4549. Parts of the hull are armour protected to STANAG 4569 standard. Manned areas are protected against nuclear biological and chemical warfare to STANAG 4447.

Command and control

The ship has a Terma C-Flex Combat management and Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence system (C4I). Systematic and Terma developed the software for the C-Flex and Maersk Data Defence was contracted for the development and supply of the hardware and system consoles.

Posted ImageBridge

The C-Flex system uses the T-Core common operational environment configured with a layered architecture.

The ship has over 20 multifunction consoles equipped with large screen displays and workstations. Digitised video imagery data from the radars and sensor suite is distributed on a TCP/IP network. The ship is fitted with a 1G Ethernet TCP/IP local area network for data transfer.

Terma C-Flex Combat management multifunction consoles

The communications suite includes tactical data links Link 11, Link 16, civil and military satellite communications operating in EHF, SHF and UHF bands, voice communications in VHF and UHF bands, civil and commercial communications, and video teleconferencing. Antenna stations are installed for use by army, air force or special forces.

In August 2008, Terma was awarded a contract to supply a multi-link system (MLS) which will interface to the C-Flex combat system and allow the future integration of Link 22.


The ship has five standard flex container wells in the weapons deck in the mid section of the ship. The standard weapons container fit for the ship will be two modules for the Harpoon surface-to-surface missile and three modules for the Evolved Sea Sparrow surface-to-air missiles.

Harpoon surface-to-surface missile launchers

Harpoon Block II

Two modules each carry eight Harpoon Block II surface-to-surface missiles.

The three modules for the surface-to-air missiles will each carry a 12-cell mk6 vertical launcher allowing the ship to carry 36 RIM-162 Raytheon Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM). The CEROS 200 fire control system provides radar homing illumination. The ship is fitted with four Flexfire radar and electro-optical trackers.

CEROS 200 fire control system

CEROS 200 fire control systemModular weapons area aboard Absalon; a total of 8 Harpoon Block II and 12 ESSMs onboard at this timeWeapons modules 

RIM-162 Raytheon Evolved Sea Sparrow

RIM-162 Raytheon Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles (ESSM)stinger_korvet2 Stinger Point-defence SAM (wikiwand.com)Posted Image7 x 12.7 mm M/01 LvSa HMG seen here covered up

The ship will be armed with the Eurotorp MU 90 lightweight torpedo and a twin or triple torpedo launcher on both sides of the weapons deck.

Eurotorp MU 90 lightweight torpedo

Eurotorp MU 90 lightweight torpedo The MU90 is a NATO-standard-calibre (323,7mm) fire-and-forget LWT of 304 Kg and 2850 mm length, designed to counter any type of nuclear or conventional submarine, acoustically coated, fast-evasive, deploying active or passive anti-torpedo effectors. The torpedo can be deployed from surface vessels, fixed/rotary wing aircraft or missile. Pre-arrangements to cope with submarine-launched SLAAM threats have been incorporated in the weapon as well as Hard-Kill (anti-torpedo torpedo), continental shelf mine and submarine launching capability. Designed and built with outstanding technologies, the weapon features any-task any-environment capability. MU90 TORPEDO MAIN DYNAMIC FEATURES ,Minimum speed: 29Kts, Maximum speed: >50Kts, Speed change step: 1Kts, Max to Min Speed change time: 3 seconds, Range: 11,000m at maximum speed, and 23,000 at minimum speed. (naval-technology.com)

The ship can carry up to 300 mines and can be fitted with containerised mine laying rails.

The ship has two Close-In-Weapon Systems (CIWS), the Oerlikon Contraves Millenium, 35mm naval gun system (GDM-008), one to the front of the bridge and one on the roof of the hangar. Millenium can fire the 35mm Ahead Air Burst Munition, at 1,000 rounds a minute. Each round contains 152 3.3g sub-projectiles, fired at a velocity of 1,050m/sec. Millenium is effective at over 3.5km for aircraft / helicopters, 2km for guided missiles / cruise missiles and 1.2km for anti-radiation missiles.

Oerlikon Contraves Millenium, 35mm naval gun system

image017Image – seaforces.orgPosted ImageTwo Close-In-Weapon Systems (CIWS), the Oerlikon Contraves Millenium, 35mm naval gun system (GDM-008), one to the front of the bridge and one on the roof of the hangarPosted Image127mm 62 mk45 mod 4 gun main gun and Oerlikon Contraves Millenium, 35mm naval gun system

Under a contract awarded in October 2002, a BAE Systems Land & Armaments (formerly United Defense) 127mm 62 mk45 mod 4 gun provides naval fire support capability. The gun will be capable of firing the newly developed Extended-Range Guided Munitions (ERGM) such as the EX-171 ER which will have a range of over 100km with an accuracy of less than 20m.

Extended-Range Guided Munitions (ERGM)


The ship is fitted with six Terma decoy launchers managed by a launch control computer. Four 12-barrelled Terma DL-12T 130mm launchers are installed on both sides of the bridge and the hangar. Two six-barrel DL-6T launchers are installed on the aft of the hangar.

Terma DL-12T 130mm launchers

Four 12-barrelled Terma DL-12T 130mm launchers and Two six-barrel DL-6T launchers

In September 2005, EDO Corporation was awarded a contract to provide the ES 3701 tactical radar Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and surveillance system for the Absalon vessels.

ES 3701 tactical radar Electronic Support Measures (ESM) and surveillance system


The helicopter hangar can accommodate two EH101 helicopters. The 850m² flight deck, which is rated for take-off and landings of helicopters up to 20t such as the Boeing CH-47D Chinook, is equipped with a McTaggart Scott helicopter landing system and a Harpoon deck lock.

Posted ImagePosted Image A closer look at the 0.50 cal (12.7mm) M3M heavy MG aboard the Super Lynx Mk.90B

McTaggart Scott helicopter landing system

Elevator access is available between the flight deck and the flex deck. For non-helicopter operations the flight deck can be used for cargo containers.

Insertion craft

The ship is equipped for insertion of Special Operations Forces (SOF). The cargo deck carries two special forces insertion craft. The 7.4t 12m SRC-90E insertion craft are operated by a crew of two or three and can carry 1,800kg of equipment, up to nine passengers or four stretcher patients.

The craft are launched from the port stern by a monorail and crane system and can be launched and recovered while the ship is underway.

The Storebro Bruks SRC-90E is constructed of composite laminates using carbon fibre and vinyl ester resins. The water jet propulsion system gives a speed of over 40kt.


The ship has a Thales Naval Netherlands SMART-S mk2 3D S-band multi-beam surveillance and target designation radar, with a range of 250km and up to 70° elevation, and a Saab Systems Ceros 200 mk3 fire control radar, operating in I to J band. The SMART-S mk2 was installed in HDMS Absalon in June 2007. The Terma Scanter 2001 X-band radar provides surface surveillance.

SMART-S mk2 3D S-band multi-beam surveillance and target designation radarPosted ImageCEROS 200 fire control systemTerma Scanter 2001 X-band radar provides surface surveillance.absalon_20070712b

The navigation suite includes navigation radars operating at X and S bands, supplied by Furuno Marine. The ship’s C4I system is linked to the electronic chart display information system. The navigation data is downloaded to the OSI display information system.

The ship is fitted with an Atlas Elektronik ASO 94-01 hull-mounted sonar.

Atlas Elektronik hull sonar


The Absalon class has a crew of 100. Permanent accommodation is also included for up to 70 additional personnel such as combined or joint task force headquarters staff. Container accommodation for an additional 130 forces personnel can be installed on the flex deck. The ship has galley and personnel facilities for up to 300 embarked passengers and crew.

A containerised modular hospital can be installed on the flex deck. The hospital has a throughput capacity to treat 40 emergency patients a day or up to ten major surgical operations.


Rockwell Automation supplied the ships’ integrated platform management system which includes the power management system. The ships are powered by two MTU 8000 diesel engines in a combined diesel and diesel configuration.

Tow MTU 8000 M70 diesel engines

Four auxiliary Caterpillar 3508B diesel engines

The engines are each rated at 8.31MW. The power system includes four auxiliary Caterpillar 3508B diesel engines each rated at 920kW and Van Kaick DSG 74 generators.

Van Kaick DSG 74 generators

The machinery spaces are insulated to maintain a low thermal signature and the machinery is installed on vibration isolation elastomeric mounts. Two shafts drive controllable pitch propellers.

Bow thrusters provide precision manoeuvrability for docking.

The ship has a maximum sustained speed of 23kt and carries stores and fuel for a mission endurance of 28 days. The maximum range between replenishments is 9,000nm. The ship is fitted with port and starboard, receive and transfer, replenishment-at-sea stations.

Source: naval-technology.com/harpgamer.com/from the net