China released images of a new, unmanned, stealth fighter-style jet, and they present a shocking look into how close Beijing has come to unseating the US as the dominant military air power.
China has already built stealth fighter jets that give US military planners pause, but the images of its new unmanned plane, named the “Dark Sword,” suggest a whole new warfighting concept that could prove an absolute nightmare for the US and its Western allies.
Justin Bronk, an air-combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Dark Sword “represents a very different design philosophy” than a US unmanned combat jet plans.
Bronk examined the photos available of the Dark Sword and concluded it appeared optimised for fast, supersonic flight as opposed to maximized stealth.
“The Chinese have gone with something that has a longer body, so it’s stable in pitch. It’s got these vertical, F-22 style vertical stabilizers,” which suggest it’s “geared towards supersonic performance and fighter-style capability.”
Though the US once led in designing drones, it was caught off guard by militarised off-the-shelf drones used in combat in the Middle East. Now, once again, the US appears caught off guard by China moving on the idea of an unmanned fighter jet ━ an idea the US had and abandoned.
The Americans are now pushing to get a drone aboard aircraft carriers, but downgraded that mission from a possible fighter to a simple aerial tanker with no requirement for stealth or survivability in what Bronk called a “strong vote from the US Navy that it doesn’t want to go down the combat” drone road.
In this scenario, US forces are fighting against supersonic, fearlessly unmanned fighter jets that can theoretically manoeuvre as well or better than manned jets because they do not have pilots onboard.
“It may be they’re putting money into things that can look good around capabilities that might not ever materialise,” he said. But that would be “odd” because there’s such a clear case for China to pursue this technology that could really stick it to the US military, Bronk said.
While the US may have some secret answer to the Dark Sword, and the Dark Sword itself may just be a shadow, the concept shows the Chinese have given serious thought when it comes to unseating the US as the most powerful air force in the world. (Dailymail)