CHINA’S LARGEST EVER AIRSHIP TREADS NEAR SPACE
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>Three days ago, unbeknownst to most of the world, China initiated a test flight lasting 24 hours. The object gaining flight was the 75 meters long, 22 meters high “Yuanmeng”, an airship taking up the volume of 18,000 cubic meters. It is solar powered, and the test was successful when the airship edged toward near space, a region of the earth’s atmosphere that exists between 20km and 100km in altitude.
>The Yuanmeng is capable of carrying a payload of up to 7 tons that includes sensors, cameras, and other equipment, all of which will be solar powered thanks to sun-soaking solar panels installed on the top of the airship. The same solar energy will be used to power its rotors for forward flight, reports Chinese publication People’s Daily Online.
>As a multi-purpose airship, the Yuanmeng can be used to detect stealth aircraft at high altitudes, warships, cruise missiles and even missile launchers that are installed hundreds of miles away.
>Like its smaller American counterpart, the JLENS (currently parked outside Washington DC), the Yuanmeng can use its sensors and high altitude to detect threats such as stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, missile launchers, and warships from several hundred miles away. But the Yuanmeng has other advantages over the JLENS. While the JLENS is an aerostat, anchored to one location by a 3,000m long tether, the Yuanmeng can freely move about and be redeployed. Its high flight altitude also gives the Yuanmeng's sensors superior situational awareness, and the ability to act as a communications rely to Chinese aircraft and drones in the event of a loss in satellite communications.
Much larger than America's JLENS, near-space altitude of at least 20km, solar-powered and with onboard propulsion (so, not an aerostat like the JLENS).
Stealth Aircraft and LRASM will stand no chance anymore.