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11:02 AM, June 11, 2018
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Dark Sword Hypersonic Stealth Combat Drone (Image: @alfa_ars_metizi on Twitter)

China has revealed the first photographs of a hypersonic unmanned fighter aircraft, ‘Dark Sword’ dubbed as the first sixth generation fighter jet.

Dark Sword’s sharp angles could also help hide it from the enemy as it speeds past. “The design does show the kind of shaping associated with radar signature reduction, and also for supersonic flight,” Doug Barrie, an air-power expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank was quoted as saying by David Axe of National Interest last Friday.

Although the concept has been talked about for years, the first hypersonic UCAV first appeared in a photograph on social media early this month. The image depicts a sleek, approximately 30-foot-long aircraft, the report stated.

Dark Sword, which originates from Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, has a low observable (stealthy) configuration that differs drastically from more common flying-wing advanced unmanned aircraft designs. Whereas those are optimized for endurance, altitude performance, broadband low observability, and payload, Dark Sword is designed for sustained speed and agility, the Drive reported last week.

Dark Sword, which originates from Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, has a low observable (stealthy) configuration that differs drastically from more common flying-wing advanced unmanned aircraft designs. Whereas those are optimized for endurance, altitude performance, broadband low observability, and payload, Dark Sword is designed for sustained speed and agility, the website reported.

Past renderings depict a conical platform with lifting-body attributes. Non-maneuvering, but possibly retractable canard foreplanes are present on its nose section. A wide, splayed tail section with canted vertical stabilizers and swept wings round out the rest of the design and a single-engine is fed by a sharp, forward-swept, chin-mounted intake.

This new image appears to feature a real-life, practical interpretation of the Dark Sword concept using proven low-observable design elements that have been flown on other Chinese stealthy aircraft designs. Most notable is the presence of a Diverterless Supersonic Inlet (DSI).

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