One of the many Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) offerings showcased by local Chinese aero-industry at Zhuhai Air Show 2018 was the JY-300 "Tian Shao" ("Sentinel of the Sky") Medium-Altitude, Long-Endurance (MALE) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) currently being developed by electronics-producer CETC Group (of China). This aircraft is being brought along to specifically cover an Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C/AWACS) unmanned role and carries an embedded Active, Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar fit by way of patented conformal installations.
The general shape of the aircraft appears to be in line with the American General Atomics "Predator" offerings. The nose section is bulbous and housing various components pertinent to the control and general function of the aircraft - an optics "blister" pack is found at the chin position. The fuselage tapers to the rear to which a pair of outward-canted vertical fins are seated - as such there are no horizontal planes featured in the design. A single, small-area ventral fin is positioned under the tail. The wing mainplanes are seated closer to midships and emanate from the sides of the fuselage which are "chined" (creating a noticeable edge - a common attribute of modern "stealth" aircraft). Furthermore, these flexing members sport winglets for added control and fuel efficiency. The propulsion pack is buried within the aft-end of the fuselage and drives a three-bladed propeller unit in "pusher" fashion (as in the American Predator family). A non-retracting (fixed-in-flight) tricycle undercarriage is used for ground-running.
The most unique quality of this UAV entry is its lack of external radome common to AWACS aircraft around the world. Instead, conforming radar antennas are positioned about the aircraft's various surfaces including the leading/trailing edges of the wings and along the sides of the forward fuselage for full 360-degree area coverage.
Early performance specs center on a flying machine capable of reaching speeds of 125 miles per hour up to a ceiling of 24,500 feet with a flight endurance window of about 15 hours. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) is in the range of 2,865lb with a cargo-carrying capacity equal to 880lb. Wingspan appears to reach 55.75 feet.
Should the JY-300 project come to full fruition, it would signify a considerable step forward for Chinese UAV design and development and usher a new age of AWACS control (unmanned). Not only that but the nation would more than likely be open to exporting its newfound technology to customers around the world typically shunned by UAV leaders such as the United States and Israel.
A first-flight of the Tian Shao is believed to have taken place in late-September of early-October 2018.
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November 2018 - A flyable version of the CETC JY-300 AEW UAV was on static display at the Zhuhai Air Show fitted with Active, Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar.
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