China develops flying wing-designed stealth transport drone

By Liu Xuanzun Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/27 17:29:10

Model of the FL-2 long range multipurpose high-subsonic transport drone on display at a military-civilian equipment and technology expo in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, in 2019. Photo: screenshot of WeChat account of Ordnance Industry Science Technology

A Chinese company recently showcased an in-development stealth transport drone that features a hybrid of conventional and flying wing design, which could represent a trend for future large transport planes, analysts said on Sunday.

Developed by Zhong Tian Guide Control Technology Co Ltd, the FL-2 stealth transport drone went on display at a recent military-civilian equipment and technology expo held in Xi'an, Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Ordnance Industry Science Technology, a Xi'an-based periodical focused on the national defense industry, reported on Thursday.

The aircraft has a flying wing aerodynamic design similar to the US' X-47B drone, but also has a pair of conventional V-shaped vertical tails, according to the report. Its fuselage also seems bulkier than other typical flying wing aircraft like the B-2 bomber.

Using two turbofan engines, the FL-2 has a liftoff weight of 22 tons, a ceiling of 15 kilometers, a cruise speed of 600 to 780 kilometers an hour, a max speed of 900 kilometers an hour, a range of 7,000 kilometers and an endurance of 10 hours, the periodical reported.

Developed as a long range multipurpose high-subsonic unmanned transport platform, the FL-2 has multiple cabins for carrying different types of cargo, or it can carry a single larger object, according to publicly available specifications. 

The FL-2 is still in its conceptual design stage, according to the company's website.

Multiple Chinese flying wing aircraft projects have been running for some time and are beginning to yield results, an anonymous military expert told the Global Times on Sunday.

The GJ-11, Sky Hawk and CH-7 are all flying wing stealth drones, but they focus on reconnaissance and attack, the expert said, noting that applying the technology on a transport plane will not be difficult.

Flying wing usually means the plane has lower drag force while flying and has more space within its cabins, giving the aircraft more load capacity, Ordnance Industry Science Technology said.

The FL-2 can carry six tons of cargo, the report said.

Since the problem of flight control, one of the most challenging issues with a flying wing design, has been solved, this design has become a main concept for future large transport planes, it said, noting that the FL-2 could serve as an important technical demonstrator for China's next generation transport plane.


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