China has developed a new launch system that claims to put the drone in the air faster and more safely. This will speed up the operation when using the weapon.
Last week, Chinese aerospace company AVIC Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group launched a drone into the air without emitting light, sound or exhaust, a drone launch system that could overcome the limitations of traditional bungee catapults and rocket boosters. I applied for a patent for.
Bungee catapults are limited to lighter drone launches and cause significant deceleration across the launch rails, but sudden spasm movements can damage the drone’s sensitive electronics. Rocket boosters, on the other hand, generate a lot of noise, smoke, light and noise, revealing the location of the drone’s launch and potentially putting the army at risk.
The new launch system, on the other hand, consists of a hollow cylinder separated into two chambers by a piston that can slide horizontally through the cylinder in response to changes in air pressure between the two chambers. The piston is connected to the pulley system and the thrust arm is connected to an external shuttle that travels along the launch rail to which the drone is mounted.
The system operates by injecting high pressure air into the first chamber and a vacuum pump reducing the air pressure in the second chamber. This causes the piston to move horizontally, pulling the shuttle from one end of the cylinder to the other to fire the drone.
“Pulling the thrust arm and pulley system causes the shuttle with the drone to move forward on the launch rack at speeds several times faster than the piston speed,” said the AVIC patent.
The new launch system can also launch drones quickly and continuously, taking up to 5 seconds to return to the launch position. However, the technology has not been tested.
“I’m still not sure if it’s useful,” said Zhou Chen Ming, a former Wang military science and technology think tank researcher. He also warned that the importance of patents should not be exaggerated.
Drone swarms are a new capability among today’s modern armies. The tactic requires a way to fly multiple drones into the air in a relatively short amount of time.
China’s new drone launch technology has the potential to improve the viability of its drone swarm system, especially the ASN-301 / JWS-01 anti-radar missile, which may play an important role in the invasion of Taiwan.
ASN-301 / JWS-01 is basically the Chinese version of the Israeli harpy wandering bullet. In 1994, China purchased an undisclosed number of Harpy drones from Israel, and in 2003 China asked the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to upgrade the unit.
However, due to U.S. pressure, Israel has abandoned its contract to upgrade China’s harpy unit due to concerns that it poses a significant risk to Taiwan, even though the drone does not contain U.S.-made parts. I was forced to do it. This could have forced China to reverse engineer Harpy drones and break its dependence on Israel.
Like the Israeli original, China’s ASN-301 / JWS-01 is designed to curb enemy air defense (SEAD) missions. Rockets can carry six rocket-assisted roaming ammunition equipped with passive radar seekers against enemy radar stations.
Each 135 kg ASN-301 / JWS-01 has a 4-hour flight durability, a top speed of 220 km / h, and a range of 288 km, and the system supports up to eight preset radar targets. I can do it.
However, rocket-assisted launches of ASN-301 / JWS-01 can be vulnerable in Taiwanese scenarios. Taiwanese and US intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) assets, such as drones and satellites, may be able to discover the launch of the ASN-301 / JWS-01 and summon cruise missile attacks.
China may be aiming to phase out the old rocket-assisted launch technology used in the ASN-301 / JWS-01 and adopt a new air piston-based launch technology.
Such upgrades eliminate important launch signatures associated with rockets, making it easier for China to carry out preemptive strikes against Taiwan’s air defense radar, while reducing the chances of a successful Taiwanese and US retaliation attack. increase.
China used to use compressed air launch technology for small drones. In particular, it was used in the “barrage group” weapons that were first tested in 2020 and fired 48 drones to attack targets.
Each suicide drone has a highly explosive warhead and is ejected from the trailer launcher using compressed air. The wings then unfold and fly towards the target, powered by an electric motor.
Such weapons are an intelligent version of traditional rocket artillery, boasting minimal firing signatures to prevent counter-battery fire, capable of accurate attacks, and capable of supplying large amounts of firepower in a short period of time. increase.
The new launch technology has the potential to be adapted for maritime applications as well. Last month, China launched the world’s first AI-powered drone mothership.
Its AI operating system makes it possible to carry 50 flying, water and underwater drones that can be launched and recovered autonomously, which can collect maritime information-collecting vast waters and enemies. Attacks swarms against warships and coastal defenses.