Image of China's twin-fuselage drone appears on internet ( Source- Want China Times)

Source- Internet Image
Source- Want China Times

China has revealed an image of its new twin-fuselage turbofan-powered unmanned aerial vehicle on the internet for the first time, US expert of Chinese military development Richard Fisher wrote for the UK-based IHS Jane's Defence Weekly on May 29.

Known as "Project 973" or "Shen Diao," the drone is understood to have been designed by the 601 Institute of the Shenyang Aircraft Corporation. Earlier concept art of the drone showed a leading-edge mounted canard-wing configuration, apparently designed as a high-altitude near space vehicle to carry out surveillance, cuing and communication missions.

However, the first actual photo of the drone from the Chinese website showed that the drone has two bulbous-nosed fuselages while the canard wing is mounted between them but not at the leading edge. Meanwhile, it is fitted with a much longer high-aspect ratio wing mounted aft. An apparent high-bypass turbofan can be seen mounted between two large vertical stabilizers.

Sources from China said that the Shen Diao was developed under the influence of Shenyang Aircraft Corporation's discussion with Russia's Sukhoi Aircraft Corporation nearly a decade ago. In the late 1990s, the Russian company began the development for a similar large canard twin-fuselage drone called the S-62. Yet without sufficient funding, Sukhoi was unable to develop the concept more fully.

Fisher said Shenyang Aircraft Corporation may have gleaned significant insights regarding the S-62 while opting not to pay for a co-development program — a frequent Chinese tactic, he said. The state-run Reference News said the drone is likely to carry out surveillance missions over the disputed East China and South China seas after it enters service.

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