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  • Asia Becomes an Engine of ISR Innovation (ISR Part Three)
    Posted by David A. Fulghum 12:13 PM on Aug 31, 2011

    Several nations in Asia and the Pacific Rim — tyrannized by long distances and rugged terrain — are moving quickly to catch up in the operational testing and introduction of both manned and unmanned intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) air vehicles.

    In the conventional world of large-wing, manned aircraft, South Korea is introducing the 737-based Peace Eye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) surveillance aircraft. Asia and the Pacific Rim also will be home to many of the U.S. Navy’s P-8 long-range patrol aircraft and possibly derivatives to replace the long-serving EP-3E signals intelligence aircraft. The very long-endurance Global Hawk is now permanently based in Guam from where it can range all through Southwest Asia.

    But it is China that is showing incredible zeal and imagination in developing new unmanned aircraft designs for long-endurance surveillance, penetration of enemy air defenses and precision targeting at standoff ranges.

    Australia Wedgetail AEWC video
    This Chinese-produced video demonstrates several indigenous designs.

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    1. The South Korean air force joins Australia and Turkey in flying a 737-based AEW&C aircraft, in this case dubbed Peace Eye. (Photo: Boeing)

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    2. The U.S. Navy’s P-8s will become formidable surveillance platforms with a large, long-range, active electronically scanned radar that can detect cruise missiles and other small targets at great distances. (Photo: Boeing)

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    3. Block 40 Global Hawk has made its first, full-system flights with its new Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program radar buried in a ventral canoe. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

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    4. Dark Sword is a Chinese concept for a stealthy, penetrating unmanned aircraft. (Photo: Richard D. Fisher, Jr.)

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    5. A Global Hawk look-alike, which has been seen on the runway in prototype form, was shown as a model carrying missiles. (Photo: Richard D. Fisher, Jr.)

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    6. An extremely interesting design with blended wing and tail — for extended endurance and greater payload — is thought to be a platform for carrying sensors that could conduct precision targeting for China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles. A prototype of the aircraft has been photographed. (Photo: Chinese Internet)

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    7. The WJ-600 UAV was shown at the recent Zuhai Airshow with a lineup of several weapons and sensor packages that it can carry for long-range surveillance and attack missions. (Photo: Robert Wall)

    Tags: China, Australia, ar99, ISR, unmanned

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