AVIC 601-S
Role Low-observable flying wing UAV
National origin China
Manufacturer Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (SYADI) of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Shenyang Aerospace University
Designer Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute
Primary user China

AVIC 601-S is an unmanned aerial vehicle development program containing series of Chinese low-observable flying wing UAVs jointly developed by Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute (SYADI) of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and Shenyang Aerospace University (沈阳航空航天大学). The name 601-S derives from the names of the developers: SYADI of AVIC is also widely known as the 601st Institute, hence 601, and the letter S is for Shenyang Aerospace University (SAU). A total of seven different models have been identified as of 2013.

Sky Crossbow

Sky Crossbow (Tian-Nu or Tiannu, 天弩) experimental UAV is the first member of 601-S series to reveal the Chinese effort to gain experience about the flying wing design. Although a flying wing, Sky Crossbow still retains the twin tails to ensure flight control, and hence named 4 control surfaces, flying wing with twin tail (Si duo-mian fei-yi jia shuang-chui-wei, 四舵面飞翼加双垂尾). Specification:[1][2]

Wind Blade

Wind Blade (Feng-Ren or Fengren, 风刃) experimental UAV is the development of earlier Sky Crossbow with very similar specifications. The primary difference between Wind Blade and earlier Sky Crossbow is that the twin-tail is replaced by winglets.[1][4][5] The configuration of Wind Blade is adopted by NUAA Unmanned flying wing, another completely unrelated Chinese experimental UAV developed by Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics for the same purpose of gaining experience in the flying wing design, and thus the two designs look very similar externally.

Cloud Bow

Wind Blade is further developed into Cloud Bow (Yun-Gong or Yungong, 云弓) experimental UAV, and by this stage the satisfactory result of flight control system of the flying wing design has been achieved, so the winglets on earlier Wind Blade is eliminated, and hence Cloud Bow is also called 4 control surfaces flying wing (si duo-mian fei-yi, 四舵面飞翼).[1][2]

Warrior Eagle

Warrior Eagle (Zhan-Ying or Zhanying, 战鹰) experimental UAV is based on earlier Cloud Bow and the difference is that Warrior Eagle is a forward swept flying wing design. Many Chinese internet claims have postulated that Warrior Eagle will be deployed as a reconnaissance or even an unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), although this might be true in some distant future, the developer has however claimed at various airshows and UAV exhibitions that the main purpose of this UAV is to gain knowledge of flight control system for a forward swept flying wing design, though there are future applications of reconnaissance and combat missions if the design is proved to be successful.[6]

Sharp Sword

See also: Hongdu GJ-11

Chinese UAV Sharp Sword (approximate appearance)
Chinese UAV Sharp Sword (approximate appearance)

Sharp Sword (Li-Jian or Lijian, 利剑),[7] jointly developed by SYADI, SAU and Hongdu Aviation Industry Group (HAIG), is one of the two models of the AVIC 601-S progressed further than proof of concept design by evolving into larger size (the other being Dark Sword). The Sharp Sword is jet-powered and has a wingspan of 14 meters.[8][9] It's not yet known the precise mission Sharp Sword is assigned, but possible missions would including reconnaissance and eventually combat missions.[10] On Nov 21 2013, Sharp Sword conducted a 20 minute long maiden flight from HAIG's airfield.[11]

Dark Sword

Chinese UAV ”Dark Sword” (approximate appearance)
Chinese UAV ”Dark Sword” (approximate appearance)

Knowledge gained on other 601-S UAVs has been applied to Dark Sword (An-Jian or Anjian, 暗剑) UAV, which has less emphasis on stealth in comparison to other 601-S UAVs, but instead, more emphasis is on maneuverability. As with Warrior Eagle, the capability of Dark Sword has been greatly exaggerated by many claims on the Chinese internet.[12] However, the developers have stated that the primary focus of Dark Sword is to develop it into a hypersonic UAV, in order to fulfill the requirement of a low-observable, high maneuverability, hypersonic UAV to support tests conducted for Chinese air defense and air-to-air weaponry Dark Sword is thought to be possible in the distant future to be developed into other applications such as reconnaissance and combat. To improve maneuverability, it adopts canard configuration and twin tails.[12][13] It features a diverterless supersonic inlet.[14]

In addition to independent operation, the design of Dark Sword allows for 'loyal wingman' or unmanned-manned teaming configuration, accompanying aircraft platforms such as Chengdu J-20.[15][16]

Shape Varying UAV

Shape Varying UAV (Bian-ti Wu-ren-ji, 变体无人机) is an experimental UAV of AVIC 601-S series and it was first revealed in 2008 during the 7th Zhuhai Airshow, and it is a proof of concept UAV of flying wing configuration, based on experience gained from other members of the series.[17] Greater wingspan provides better stability at low speed, while at high speed, lesser wingspan would help to reduce drag. Instead of the usual variable-sweep wing configuration, Shape Varying UAV is designed to explore the potential of folding wing design.[18] As with other members of the AVIC 601-S UAVs, the inlet of Shape Varying UAV is above the fuselage.[19]

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c "AVIC 601-S Specification". Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  2. ^ a b "AVIC 601-S Designs". Archived from the original on 2011-12-11. Retrieved 2011-11-08.
  3. ^ "AVIC 601-S Sky Crossbow engine". Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
  4. ^ "AVIC 601-S Wind Blade". Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
  5. ^ "AVIC 601-S Wind Blade UAV". Archived from the original on 2013-10-29. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
  6. ^ AVIC 601-S Warrior Eagle
  7. ^ Wong, Edward. (2013, September 21). "Hacking U.S. Secrets, China Pushes for Drones," The New York Times, p.A1 ff.
  8. ^ AVIC 601-S Sharp Sword
  9. ^ New Chinese advances in tailless UAV designs revealed Flightglobal.com, May 14, 2013
  10. ^ Is This China’s First Killer Drone? Wired.com, May 10, 2013
  11. ^ Axe, David (21 November 2013). "Now China's Got a Stealthy Killer Drone". medium.com. war-is-boring. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
  12. ^ a b "AVIC 601-S Dark Sword". Archived from the original on 2008-11-08. Retrieved 2008-11-06.
  13. ^ AVIC 601-S Dark Sword Archived February 22, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Janes | Latest defence and security news".
  15. ^ Rogoway, Tyler (5 June 2018). "Image Of China's Stealthy 'Dark Sword' Fighter-Like Combat Drone Emerges". The Drive.
  16. ^ Rogoway, Tyler (26 October 2021). "This Is Our First Look At A Two-Seat Variant Of China's J-20 Stealth Fighter (Updated)". The Drive.
  17. ^ "AVIC 601-S Shape Varying UAV". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-08-22.
  18. ^ AVIC 601-S Shape Varying unmanned aerial vehicle
  19. ^ "AVIC 601-S Shape Varying". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2013-08-22.