At the 14th Airshow China international air show, which opened in the city of Zhuhai in the Chinese province of Guangdong, LoongUAV, a company specializing in the creation of flying drones, demonstrated the Loong-5 small autonomous bomber.
Combat drones are a hot trend these days. They turned out to be very effective means of reconnaissance, target designation and destruction of targets. Demand in the armies of the world is growing rapidly, so it is not surprising that the number of companies seeking to take a place in this market is difficult to even name. They spring up like mushrooms after a good rain.
The Chinese LoongUAV is one of them. The company, like most of its kind, is young, but its product line already includes guidance and reconnaissance drones, kamikaze drones, and even a small bomber.
Chinese designers have tried to make it cheap, easy to maintain, reusable and inconspicuous to the enemy.
The price was very economical. One small Loong-5 bomber costs only one hundred thousand dollars. Its larger brother Wing Loong-2 is five million, the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 is half a million, and the American MQ-1C Gray Eagle is tens of millions of dollars each.
The body is made according to the aircraft scheme of composite materials. On two pylons attached to the wing, there are four electric motors with propellers that create vertical thrust. Thanks to this, the aircraft can take off from any platform and land almost anywhere.
Two more motors with pusher propellers are mounted on the ends of the pylons and drive the drone in horizontal motion. Under the wing there is a lifting force, and in the air the drone behaves very stably.
The two tail keels, connected at an angle, reduce the area of the reflective surface and make the drone hardly noticeable to radars.
The drone is very portable. The device itself and all accessories fit in one box, which can be carried by the drone operator. Assembly takes less than a minute.
The aircraft is equipped with a rotating block of high-resolution cameras that allow you to monitor both day and night, track and fix targets. The image can be sent to the operator or used by the aircraft software. Sensors determine the distance to the target, position it with an accuracy of up to a meter. These data can also be used by front-line artillery crews.
But if the task of aiming artillery is not set, the bomber will carry out independent bombing. Six 60 mm bombs (mortar rounds) or four 82 mm bombs can be attached to the body with special holders. The total weight of combat equipment that the drone can carry to the target is 20 kilograms. Bombing accuracy does not exceed three meters, and the affected area can reach the size of a football field.
A feature of the Chinese bomber is software that allows you to use several drones at the same time and carry out carpet bombing or destroy a large number of dispersed targets. The drone program cannot yet be called artificial intelligence, but thanks to it, the drone is still able to interact with similar drones, recognize and distribute targets, perform fully automatic bombing, and independently return to the operator after completing the task.
In emergency situations, when the target, for example, is extremely important, but too large, Loong-5 can perform the role of a cruise missile. In this case, of course, there is no question of returning. The computer synchronizes all available ammunition, which explodes simultaneously when the drone hits the target.
Whichever version of the drone is chosen, the device, as shown by tests in the Gobi desert, is effective in all its roles: it conducts reconnaissance, serves as a gunner and hits both stationary and moving targets. In addition, according to the designers, it demonstrates high resistance to electronic warfare.