New gliding bomb for the PLA Air Force

Perspective bomb in transport position

On August 15, China Central Television (CCTV-7 channel) aired another program on advanced weapons and equipment. One of its topics was a promising high-precision aerial bomb, first appearing in open sources. The name of the product has not yet been announced, but the main characteristics and capabilities have already been disclosed.

Nameless bomb

It is reported that the promising aerial bomb was developed by the NORINCO corporation, and the project has already reached flight tests. They showed products at the assembly stage and in finished form, as well as their individual components. The TV program also includes footage from tests – dropping, flying and detonating a target.

The new weapon is a guided gliding bomb designed to destroy area ground targets with previously known coordinates. The bomb is made in a large elongation case with characteristic “stealth” contours and a square cross-section. On top of the bomb there is a folding wing, there are tail rudders.

You can draw conclusions about the layout of the bomb. The head of the hull houses the control and guidance equipment. Above it is a wing folding mechanism. The central compartment, apparently, accommodates a combat load. In the tail are the steering gears.

The gliding bomb received a folding swept wing. Its configuration in flight position indicates the ability to fly at high speeds, possibly even supersonic. The tail design is no less interesting. It includes six planes – a fixed horizontal stabilizer and four inclined rudders.

The autopilot, which includes the Beidou satellite navigation system, is responsible for aiming at the target. There are no means of independent search for a target in flight. The hitting accuracy is declared at the level of 30 m, which is sufficient for the use of a standard warhead.

The bomb carries a cluster-type warhead. The load is made in the form of 240 submunitions. It is reported that there are six types of combat loads for different purposes. Probably, the bomb is capable of carrying high-explosive fragmentation or anti-tank warheads, mines, etc. Load dissipation is carried out on an area of ​​6 thousand square meters.

Product dimensions have not been specified. Caliber – 500 kg. The maximum flight range exceeds 60 km. Probably, the exact flight characteristics directly depend on the height and speed of the carrier during the drop.

Obvious advantages

The Chinese reports cite not only the main features of the new bomb, but also its scope, as well as the expected benefits. In general, we are talking about obtaining the same results as in foreign projects of a similar purpose.

Unfolded Wing Bomb

A long-range gliding bomb can be dropped by the carrier outside the enemy’s tactical air defense engagement zone. The special shape and design make it difficult to detect the bomb and simplify its flight to the target. At a given point, the combat load is dropped. A bomb with a cluster warhead is proposed to be used to attack airfields, army bases and troops in places of concentration, etc. In a number of situations, an aerial bomb should be used as a means of laying mines.

In terms of size and weight, the new aerial bomb does not fundamentally differ from modern Chinese weapons. This means that it can be used by a wide range of tactical aircraft of all major types, including promising 5th generation fighters. It can be assumed that such a strike aviation complex will expand the combat capabilities of the PLA Air Force and provide an increase in combat effectiveness in comparison with other weapons.

Has analogues

The new “unnamed” bomb from NORINCO is said to be a proprietary Chinese design based on available technology and experience. However, this product is similar to a well-known foreign model – both at the level of the concept and in its implementation.

The direct analogue of the Chinese bomb was the American AGM-154A Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW). This is a gliding bomb with a length of more than 4 m with a caliber of 500 kg. She had a swept wing and plumage with six planes. All JSOW modifications received inertial and satellite navigation systems. The maximum flight range when dropped from a high altitude reached 130 km.

Tail unit

Bombs of the JSOW family were equipped with different warheads. The basic AGM-154A carried a cassette with 145 combined action warheads of the BLU-97 / B Combined Effects Bomb (CEB) type – it was a compact shaped charge with a fragmentation jacket and an incendiary composition. The submunition was versatile and was used to engage a wide range of targets.

The AGM-154A bomb was adopted by the US Air Force and Navy in 1999 and was produced in a large series. Weapons of the JSOW family were used in several operations in the early 2000s. During operation, the family showed itself not in the best way, and in 2008 new plans for cassette systems were adopted. As a result, AGM-154A was removed from service.

Demonstration of possibilities

At the moment, it is known about the creation of a new bomb and about the testing. The plans for adoption have not yet been announced. Since it has already been shown on television, one can expect that subsequent events will not be long in coming and will also become the topic of open messages.

The emergence of a new project demonstrates the PLA’s interest in obtaining modern high-precision aircraft weapons with broad capabilities. A promising aerial bomb, as far as is known, is the first example of a Chinese design with such a combination of characteristics, and its appearance will have the most interesting consequences.

American-made AGM-154 JSOW bomb

NORINCO Corporation has once again demonstrated the ability of the Chinese industry to create modern aircraft weapons. Systems of various types are mass-produced for the own Air Force and for export, and the new bomb continues these “traditions”.

Some questions are raised by the fact that China has only now created an analogue of foreign weapons taken out of service 12 years ago. This shows a certain technical and technological lag behind the world leaders. However, this lag is decreasing and leads to the emergence of quite modern developments. In addition, comparing the Chinese bomb and the American AGM-154A, it should be borne in mind that the latter was removed from service not because of obsolescence.

The latest news suggests that the Chinese Air Force can expect to receive a modern, highly effective weapon, and the industry itself has created a new cause for pride. At the same time, the military department considered it possible to demonstrate a promising weapon to the public. All this once again shows that the PRC wants and can develop its armed forces by all available means.

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