AVIC 601-S is a series of Chinese low-observable flying wing UAVs jointly developed by Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (SYADI) of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Shenyang Aerospace University (沈阳航空航天大学). The name 601-S derives from the names of the developers: SYADI of AVIC is also widely known as the 601st Institute, hence 601, and the letter S is for Shenyang Aerospace University (SAU). A total of seven different models have been identified as of 2013.
Sky Crossbow (Tian-Nu or Tiannu, 天弩) experiemental UAV is the first member of 601-S series to reveal the Chinese effort to gain experience about the flying wing design. Although a flying wing, Sky Crossbow still retains the twin tails to ensure flight control, and hence named 4 control surfaces, flying wing with twin tail (Si duo-mian fei-yi jia shuang-chui-wei, 四舵面飞翼加双垂尾). Specification:
- Length: 2.15 m
- Wingspan: 2.2 m
- Height: 0.6 m
- Weight: 18.8 kg
- Speed: 70–150 km/h
- Power plant: Electrically powered ducted fan
Wind Blade (Feng-Ren or Fengren, 风刃) experimental UAV is the development of earlier Sky Crossbow with very similar specifications. The primary difference between Wind Blade and earlier Sky Crossbow is that the twin-tail is replaced by winglets. The configuration of Wind Blade is adopted by NUAA Flying Wing, another completely unrelated Chinese experimental UAV developed by Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics for the same purpose of gaining experience in the flying wing design, and thus the two designs look every similar externally.
Wind Blade is further developed into Cloud Bow (Yun-Gong or Yungong, 云弓) experimental UAV, and by this stage the satisfactory result of flight control system of the flying wing design has been achieved, so the winglets on earlier Wind Blade is eliminated, and hence Cloud Bow is also called 4 control surfaces flying wing (si duo-mian fei-yi, 四舵面飞翼).
Warrior Eagle (Zhan-Ying or Zhanying, 战鹰) experimental UAV is based on earlier Cloud Bow and the difference is that Warrior Eagle is a forward swept flying wing design. Many Chinese internet claims have postulated that Warrior Eagle will be deployed as a reconnaissance or even an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), although this might be true in some distant future, the developer has however claimed at various airshows and UAV exhibitions that the main purpose of this UAV is to gain knowledge of flight control system for a forward swept flying wing design, though there are future applications of reconnaissance and combat missions if the design is proved to be successful.
Sharp Sword (Li-Jian or Lijian, 利剑), jointly developed by SYADI, SAU and Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), is one of the two models of the AVIC 601-S progressed further than proof of concept design by evolving into larger size (the other being Dark Sword). The Sharp Sword is jet powered and has a wingspan of 14 meters. It’s not yet known the precise mission Sharp Sword is assigned, but possible missions would including reconnaissance and eventually combat missions as some have claimed. On Nov 21 2013, Sharp Sword conducted a 20 minute long maiden flight from HAIG's airfield.
Knowledge gained on other 601-S UAVs has been applied to Dark Sword (An-Jian or Anjian, 暗剑) UAV, which has less emphasis on stealth in comparison to other 601-S UAVs, but instead, more emphasis is on maneuverability. As with Warrior Eagle, the capability of Dark Sword has been gravely exaggerated by many Chinese internet claims, even with computer generated graphic showing Dark Sword as an UCAV. However, the developers have claimed that the primary focus of Dark Sword is to develop it into a supersonic UAV instead of UCAV. This is because the need to fill the urgent requirement of a low-observable, high maneuverability, supersonic UAV to support tests conducted for Chinese air defense and air-to-air weaponry. Retired Shenyang J-6 can only achieve supersonic speed at level flight, but the main purpose of retired Chengdu J-7 is to provide spare parts for existing J-7 fleet currently in service after the production has ended. Dark Sword is a candidate for supersonic, low-observable and high maneuverability test vehicle to fill this role, though it is possible in the distant future for it to be developed for other applications such as reconnaissance and combat. To improve maneuverability, Dark Sword adopts canard configuration and twin tails.
Shape Varying UAV
Shape Varying UAV (Bian-ti Wu-ren-ji, 变体无人机) is an experimental UAV of AVIC 601-S series and it was first revealed in 2008 during the 7th Zhuhai Airshow, and it is a proof of concept UAV of flying wing configuration, based on experience gained from other members of the series. Greater wingspan provides better stability at low speed, while at high speed, lesser wingspan would help to reduce drag. Instead of the usual variable-sweep wing configuration, Shape Varying UAV is designed to explore the potential of folding wing design. As with other members of the AVIC 601-S UAVs, the inlet of Shape Varying UAV is above the fuselage.
- "AVIC 601-S Specification". Retrieved 2012-12-27.
- "AVIC 601-S Designs". Retrieved 2011-11-08.
- AVIC 601-S Sky Crossbow engine
- AVIC 601-S Wind Blade
- AVIC 601-S Wind Blade UAV
- AVIC 601-S Warrior Eagle
- AVIC 601-S Sharp Sword
- AVIC 601-S Sharp Sword UAV
- AVIC 601-S Sharp Sword Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
- Axe, David (21 November 2013). "Now China’s Got a Stealthy Killer Drone". medium.com. war-is-boring. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "AVIC 601-S Dark Sword". Retrieved 2008-11-06.
- AVIC 601-S Dark Sword
- AVIC 601-S Shape Varying UAV
- AVIC 601-S Shape Varying unmanned aerial vehicle
- AVIC 601-S Shape Varying