The Chinese military commitment to unmanned "drone" aircraft is such that a vast local investment has made possible a slew of modern, over-battlefield offerings ranging from small and portable to large and wholly autonomous. This includes the new "Gongji-11" (also "GJ-11") Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) debuted at the October 1st, 2019, National Day parade in China. The air vehicle attempts to significantly broaden Chinese unmanned capabilities and appears largely influenced by Western designs - namely the American Northrop Grumman X-47B technology demonstrator - in shape and overall size.
While little is concretely known of the GJ-11's capabilities, it is assumed that the air vehicle shares some qualities with its global counterparts of same size and role. It is intended as an attack aircraft so an internal weapons bay is included as part of the aircraft's makeup. Another notable trait is the design's inherent stealth characteristics, namely its low profile and shrouded exhaust port. In this manner, the aircraft is expected to "sneak" into enemy airspaces and attack targets of strategic value undetected.
The aircraft sports an appearance not unlike the X-47B, being of an all-wing planform (no tail fins are featured whatsoever) with the single internal, air-breathing turbofan engine aspirated by a dorsally-mounted intake just aft and above the nose. The engine exhausts through a low-profile port at the rear of the fuselage also seated dorsally. The wings are well-blended into the fuselage, promoting a smooth overall contour. The overall shape of the aircraft is that of an arrowhead, maximizing aerodynamic and fuel efficiency for useful operational ranges. A retractable tricycle landing gear arrangement is featured for general ground-running exercises. An autonomous capability for this new UCAV is assumed.
Despite all the potential that has been associated with the GJ-11 design, it remains a very new and largely unproven addition to the Chinese UCAV lineup. As such, only time will tell if the system lives up to its lofty billing.
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