The assumption is made on the basis of a report published on Flightglobal, a website related to the aviation and aerospace industries.
It cites the company’s first deputy chief executive officer Vladimir Mikheev as describing the vehicle as an advanced military UAV designed to detect stealth aircraft in the same vein as China’s ambitious “Divine Eagle” project, which he claims is based on technology “borrowed” from Russia and the US.
Such aircraft, the website says, would detect hard-to-absorb US combat aircraft using X-band and UHF radars, specifically the Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35, and Northrop Grumman B-2. Airborne surveillance is just one of the UAV’s capabilities.
The unmanned aircraft closely resembles Northrop’s carrier-based X-47B demonstrator, but adds two lift fans on each wing and vertical stabilizers.
Mikheev says the UAV’s avionics, radar and electronic warfare systems are derived from those being produced for the Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighter and the Kamov Ka-50 attack helicopter.
The US media therefore recalled what the Chinese Divine Eagle project is all about.
“Earlier this year, photos first emerged of a new High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) UAV termed the Divine Eagle, that foreign observers believe is designed to detect and eliminate stealth enemy aircraft far from the Chinese mainland,” according to The National Interest.
“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,” says another online magazine, Popular Science.
“The timing is notable. Coming shorty after the release of the first Chinese defense White Paper calling for Chinese military expeditionary capabilities and high profile Sino-Russian naval exercises, the Divine Eagle is a visual announcement that China's building unique technologies that could change the brewing arms race in the Asia Pacific.”
The website also acknowledged that The Divine Eagle is planned to carry multiple Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars, of the AMTI, SAR and GMTI varities. Airborne Moving Target Indicator (AMTI) radar types are used to track airborne targets, like enemy fighters and cruise missiles. Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) provides high resolution of slow moving ground vehicles and enemy bases.
As a High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) UAV, the Divine Eagle would prove incredibly useful in both offensive and defensive operations. Its long range anti-stealth capabilities can be used against both aircraft, like the B-2 bomber, and warships such as the DDG-1000 destroyer. Using the Divine Eagle as a picket, the Chinese air force could quickly intercept stealthy enemy aircraft, missiles and ships well before they come in range of the Mainland. Flying high, the Divine Eagle could also detect anti-ship missile trucks and air defenses on land, in preparation for offensive Chinese activity.