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Hongdu Lijian (Sharp Sword) - China, 2018

Detailing the development and operational history of the Hongdu Lijian (Sharp Sword) Stealth Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV).

 Entry last updated on 11/11/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Hongdu Lijian (Sharp Sword)  
Picture of Hongdu Lijian (Sharp Sword)
Picture of Hongdu Lijian (Sharp Sword)

The Hongdu Lijian UCAV was photographed undertaking its maiden flight in November of 2013.

In tune with other leading military powers of the world, China has delved into the realm of the Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV), a remotely-piloted aircraft with weapons delivery capability, through its unveiling of the Hongdu Lijian ("Sharp Sword"). The aircraft represents China's first official foray into a jet-powered, stealth-minded Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) and is believed to serve the role of technology demonstrator for a possible future combat system. The design was photographed during a taxiing run in May of 2013, officially marking its appearance in the Chinese aircraft inventory. Externally, the vehicle takes on the form of the competing (and in-development) Northrop Grumman X-47B complete with frontal air intake and tailless profile.

The Lijian exited a period of development that spanned some three years and involved both Hongdu and Shenyang aircraft makers. The end-result was a flying wing with a turbofan buried within the bulbous fuselage. The overhead profile of the aircraft is reminiscent of the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and lacks any vertical fins of any kind. It is presumed that there lies an internal weapons bay for munitions. The undercarriage is fully-retractable and consists of two main single-wheeled legs and a nose leg.

As it stands, the Lijian is thought to be powered by the same Shenyang WP7 series engine as featured on the J-7 fighter series. Estimated specifications include an operational range out to 80 miles with a payload-carrying capability not exceeding 4,000lbs. The structure includes a wingspan of some 46 feet.

Since this aircraft system remains in development as of January 2014, this article will be updated as additional information becomes apparent.

Hongdu Lijian (Sharp Sword) Specifications

Service Year: 2018
Type: Stealth Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV)
National Origin: China
Manufacturer(s): Hongdu Aircraft Industries Corporation (HAIC) / Shenyang - China
Total Production: 1

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 0
Overall Width: 45.93 feet (14.00 meters)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: (Assumed) 1 x Shenyang WP7 turbofan engine developing 10,000lb of thrust (estimated).

Armament / Mission Payload

Unknown at this time. Presumed to be precision-guided munitions held internally. Payload assumed no more than 4,500lbs.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

China (probable)

Model Variants

Lijian - Base Series Name

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