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China’s new high-altitude, high-speed demonstrator drone makes first flight

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China’s new high-altitude, high-speed demonstrator drone makes first flight
Published: Dec 09, 2022 12:34 AM Updated: Dec 09, 2022 12:30 AM

The Liuxing-260 high-altitude, high-speed demonstrator drone makes first flight in the deserts of Northwest China in late 2022. Photo: Screenshot from Weibo account of Aviation Industry Corporation of China

The Liuxing-260 high-altitude, high-speed demonstrator drone makes first flight in the deserts of Northwest China in late 2022. Photo: Screenshot from Weibo account of Aviation Industry Corporation of China

China recently carried out the maiden flight for a type of new high-altitude, high-speed demonstrator drone, which can help test and verify a number of new technologies including artificial intelligence, loyal wingman and drone swarm, the aircraft’s maker announced on Thursday.

Independently developed by the flight test center of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the Liuxing-260 successfully completed its first flight, AVIC said in a statement released on social media on Thursday.

During the flight, which took place in the desert in Northwest China, the Liuxing-260 high-altitude, high-speed, high-maneuver drone took off from a launcher vehicle, conducted several maneuvers including diving, rolling and circling, before descending to a preset position for a parachute recovery, AVIC said.

Designed as a demonstrator for aviation equipment, the Liuxing-260 drone can switch its nose cone, equipment bay, air intake, engine and payload pylons based on its needs, allowing it to serve as an aerial test platform for technologies such as new coatings, small engines and seekers, or act as a test participant for advanced technologies like artificial intelligence, loyal wingman and drone swarm, according to the statement.

The new drone will contribute to enhancing test flight efficiency and accelerating the development of new aircraft and aviation equipment, AVIC said.

Generally, a demonstrator aircraft is useful for testing technologies of subsystems to be used on new types of aircraft or aviation equipment before the latter completes development, a Chinese military expert told the Global Times on Thursday, requesting anonymity.

This will save time, costs and manpower in verifying new technologies, the expert said.

With the new demonstrator drone, many new technologies for drones and missiles can be tested before they are fully built, the expert said.

The Liuxing-260 took three years to develop, and used the modularization and multipurpose design concept, making breakthroughs in several key technologies including the verification of a type of domestically developed small turbojet engine and the formation flight of multiple aircraft with one control station, AVIC said.

 

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