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Airshow China 2016: CASC unsheathes its Hidden Blade lightweight missile system

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The Hidden Blade multirole missile system is designed to provide dismounted troops with a means of defeating low flying aircraft and ground-based vehicles in a compact and lightweight package. The missile itself is only 690 mm long. Source: IHS/Kelvin Wong.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) unveiled a new lightweight and man-portable precision missile system at the 2016 China International Aviation Exhibition Center (Airshow China) in Zhuhai in early November.

Designated the Xiu Jian (Hidden Blade) lightweight multirole missile weapon system, it is designed primarily for use by dismounted troops and special forces to enable them to engage low flying aircraft such as helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as well as soft-skinned land platforms and structures. The company also claims that the missile is effective against lightly armoured vehicles.

While development is still in its early stages and specifications are likely to evolve as work progresses, IHS Jane's understands from CASC that the Hidden Blade missile will measure approximately 690 mm long and 60 mm in diameter, with a launch weight of 4 kg.

The missile is carried and fired from a lightweight plastic polymer tube launcher equipped with a photoelectric sight, deploying four short chord flip-out rectangular wings at mid-body immediately after being launched to stabilise it in flight and employing its four flip-out tailfins to steer it to engage aerial and surface threats up to 2 km and 3 km away respectively, with a minimum engagement range of 150 m for both modes.

Guidance is provided by a photoelectric sensor, which is understood to employ a diffuse/proximity sensing technique, where transmitted radiation from the seeker's emitter must reflect off the target in order for detection and tracking to occur. However, while this method provides near immunity to background interference and jamming, the target must also be in clear view of the seeker's detection zone. As a result, it must be used against targets travelling in an environment with minimal background clutter.

"Like its namesake, the Hidden Blade is designed to provide troops with a means of defending themselves against mobile targets in a compact and lightweight package, while being easily concealed so that they can spring a surprise against unsuspecting targets," a CASC spokesperson told IHS Jane's , adding that the system was successfully test fired in early 2016 and ready for production as soon as a customer is found.

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Airshow China 2016: AVIC unveils SW-6 air-deployable mini UAV

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The SW-6 air-deployable mini surveillance/electronic warfare UAV shown in its flight configuration with wings fully extended. Source: IHS/Kelvin Wong.

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) has revealed the latest addition to its Tian Yi (Sky Wing) tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) family at the Airshow China 2016 exhibition in Zhuhai.

The Sky Wing 6 (SW-6) is a surveillance or electronic warfare (EW) platform designed for deployment from an aircraft. The mini-UAV features a flattened 1.6 m long fuselage - constructed from lightweight composite materials - to enable the forward (upper) and rear (lower) wing surfaces to be folded for carriage. When fully deployed, the forward and rear wings measure 2.4 m and 2.9 m respectively, all four wings function as flight control surfaces with the latter equipped with winglets for improved flight efficiency and stability.

The SW-6 has a maximum take-off weight (MOTW) of 20 kg and is capable of carrying a 5 kg payload in its nose. This typically comprises a high definition CCD daylight camera or an infrared imager as well as a two-way datalink to stream data to a nearby ground-based terminal. In the EW mode, the SW-6 can be equipped with a range of single or multiband radio frequency (RF) jamming packages.

An electric motor enables the UAV to achieve cruising speeds of 80 to 100 km/h with a flight endurance of 1 hour, with a lithium ion battery providing power to both the motor and payload.

An AVIC spokesperson explained to IHS Jane's that the concept of operations (CONOPS) for the SW-6 is for a carrier aircraft to release the UAV from an altitude of around 2,000 to 3000 m (6,560 to 9,840 ft) to enable its wings to unfold fully and glide itself to its cruising altitude of 1,000 m.

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The SW-6 mini UAV shown in its travel configuration on the starboard pylon of the CAIC Z-11WB helicopter, with wings folded flush with its body. (IHS/Kelvin Wong)

"The SW-6 is designed to fly circuits along a pre-programmed flight pattern around the designated area of operation to send real-time video or imagery intelligence to a tactical station for exploitation," the spokesperson said.

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Airshow China 2016: NORINCO debuts new self-propelled 120 mm gun/mortar system

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Rear view of the SH9 120 mm self-propelled howitzer mortar in the firing position with two stabilisers deployed at the rear of the platform. Source: Christopher F Foss.

China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO) has unveiled a new, all-terrain self-propelled (SP) 120 mm combined gun/mortar system, designated SH9.

As currently configured, SH9 is based on an open top light unarmoured locally built 4x4 platform. The 120 mm ordnance is mounted to the rear of the platform and is fitted with a muzzle brake to reduce recoil force when the weapon is fired; two stabilisers, located at the rear of the platform, are lowered to support the SH9 when deployed for a fire mission. The 120 mm weapon can traverse 30° left/right, with elevation given from 20° to 80°.

The quoted combat weight of the SH9 mounted on the 4x4 chassis is given as 5 tonnes, with a maximum road speed of 130 km/h, and a range of up to 600 km.

NORINCO says that the SH9 can execute both direct and indirect fire missions. Equipped with an integrated fire control system, the SH9 is capable of delivering multiple round simultaneous impact (MRSI) fire missions in which all of the 120 mm rounds impact the target area at the same time for maximum effect.

Maximum range depends on the projectile/charge combination; however, the company claims a maximum range of 13.5 km using a 120 mm base bleed rocket-assisted projectile (BB-RAP). According to NORINCO, the SH9 can fire Chinese, Russian, and Western 120 mm mortar ammunition, with the former including laser-guided 120 mm mortar projectiles.

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Front view of the SH9 120 mm self-propelled howitzer mortar, clearly showing the distinctive muzzle brake. (Christopher F Foss)

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